Amazon invests in direct air capture tech for the first time

The firm will purchase 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal over a 10-year period.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of a direct air capture facility.jpg
Representational image of a direct air capture facility.


Amazon announced on its site on Tuesday that it is investing in CarbonCapture Inc. and buying carbon removal credits from 1PointFive to help hasten the development of direct air capture (DAC) systems. This move is in line with Amazon's Climate Pledge which promises to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

The largest DAC tech deployment

By agreeing to buy 250,000 metric tonnes of carbon removal from STRATOS, 1PointFive's first DAC plant, over a ten-year period, Amazon is backing the largest DAC technology deployment in the world. 

“Amazon's primary focus is to decarbonize our global operations through our transition to renewable energy, building with more sustainable materials, and electrifying our delivery fleet and global logistics,” said Kara Hurst, vice president of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. 

“We are also pursuing changes such as reducing the weight of packaging per shipment for our customers. At the same time, we also need to seek every possible avenue to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. These investments in direct air capture complement our emissions reductions plans, and we are excited to support the growth and deployment of this technology."

Because DAC technology enables the direct absorption of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, it has attracted interest as a potential weapon for combating climate change. It has the potential to decrease emissions from hard-to-reduce industries like aviation and could theoretically compensate for emissions that have already been released into the atmosphere.

How does it work?

DAC systems typically use large fans or air collectors to draw in atmospheric air. The captured air is then passed through a sorbent or chemical solution that binds with the CO2 molecules and separates them from the other air molecules. Depending on the particular DAC technology employed, this chemical reaction may vary.

Once it has been absorbed, the CO2 is removed from the sorbent or chemical solution. The separated CO2 can then be used in two applications: carbon storage or CO2 utilization. 

Carbon storage refers to the process of carbon sequestration, which involves storing CO2 in geological formations such as deep saline aquifers or depleted oil and gas reservoirs. Carbon utilization refers to the use of CO2 in industrial operations or its transformation into useful goods like construction materials, chemicals, or synthetic fuels.

Depending on the objectives and economic feasibility of the DAC system, other options may be available.

It should be noted that, at the moment, DAC is still a pricey and energy-intensive technology, which prevents its general adoption. An important research and development challenge is lowering the cost and energy requirements of DAC. This is something that Amazon and CarbonCapture aim to achieve together.

“We’re looking forward to leveraging our relationship with Amazon to both democratize access and reduce the long-run cost of producing carbon removal credits,” said Adrian Corless, CarbonCapture’s CEO and chief technology officer. 

CarbonCapture will also provide the company with up to 100,000 tonnes of carbon removal credits in addition to the investment from Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund. As the need to combat climate change becomes more pressing, DAC will likely play an increasingly significant role in carbon removal strategies. It looks like Amazon is looking to get ahead of the game.