Global Thermostat has built a small demonstration plant at SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., that today is sucking carbon dioxide from the air. About the size of a two-story elevator shaft, the pilot module sucks air past porous ceramic blocks known as monoliths, where amines bind with the carbon dioxide; the blocks are then lowered into a chamber where they are flooded with steam that releases the CO2, and the process then repeats itself.
Finally, there’s Carbon Engineering, a startup run by David Keith out of Calgary, Alberta, the nerve center of Canada’s oil and gas industry. Bill Gates is an investor, as is his friend Jabe Blumenthal, a former Microsoft executive who is passionate about climate issues. So is N. Murray Edwards, an oil and gas billionaire. Keith, a physicist and climate scientist, has a joint appointment at the University of Calgary and at Harvard’s Kennedy School.