Researchers in Australia and Canada have developed a new chemical process to more efficiently convert CO2 into multi-carbon products. 

The advance gives “carbon capture products more ‘bang for buck’ by creating a secondary market of materials” under more energy efficient operating conditions.

Continued doubling of such efficiencies are the researchers’ next step, with the idea of “creating a solid commercial basis for carbon removals.” 

From 2015 to 2021, the NRG COSIA X-Prize solicited proposals to commodify second-life carbon. The idea was to give carbon a market value beyond that of government penalty pricing.

Ideas emerged for using CO2 as a manufacturing input for commodity items from sneakers to Lego blocks to carbonated beverages. 

Ultimately, the two winners – CarbonCure Technologies and CarbonBuilt – both focused on embedding carbon in processes for concrete or building materials. 

Last year, the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act updated its 45Q tax credit to incentive carbon capture and storage, spurring greater investment. 

CO2 capture – either atmospheric drawdown or source capture – gained endorsement as a needed climate solution for late-century net negative emissions, from the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

However there remain many skeptics about atmospheric drawdown or source capture using anything but nature-based solutions like forests or soil for carbon sinks. 

A March 2023 report from the Australia Academy of Science digs in further on the matter. 

But as usual, important caveats apply, including from the scientific research team cited at the top:

“[T]he transition for heavy industry will take time, making the capturing of CO2 at the emissions site an important interim step,” however “the overall goal worldwide should be to slash emissions by transitioning to renewables and moving away from the burning of fossil fuels.”