The startup C-Quester, founded by Caltech Ph.D. student Alan Gu and his colleagues Léopold Dobelle and Clément Cid, is making strides in the field of carbon capture. The team has developed a unique carbon capture system that aims to clean up toxic fumes from power plants and other large point-source emitters like fertilizer, steel, or cement production plants.
C-Quester’s approach involves a series of scale-up systems, each named after a significant mountain peak, symbolizing the monumental task of carbon capture. Currently, they are working on phase B (Baldy), a lab-built prototype capable of removing 1 ton of carbon dioxide per year, and phase C (Centennial), designed to remove 100 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Future phases include Denali (1,000 tons), Everest (100,000 tons), and Fuji (400,000 tons), each representing a significant increase in carbon capture capacity.
The technology behind C-Quester’s system is inspired by the natural process of limestone weathering in oceans. The team has developed a gas-solid chemical reactor that mimics this process, breaking down calcium carbonate, seawater, and carbon dioxide compounds into dissolved bicarbonate ions. This innovative approach not only captures carbon but also transforms it into a solid form, making it easier to handle and store.
Despite the promising progress, the founders of C-Quester acknowledge the enormity of the challenge ahead. To meet the United Nations’ energy-related sustainable development goals, the world would need to sequester 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. C-Quester’s current and planned prototypes are just a small step toward this goal. However, with continued innovation and scaling up, the startup hopes to make a significant contribution to the global effort to combat climate change.
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