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UC Berkeley Researchers and Siemens Energy work together to simulate and advance direct carbon capture for carbon sequestration

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UC Berkeley is partnering with Siemens Energy to accelerate the development of direct air capture technology.


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SEPTEMBER 11, 2023

The U.S. Department of Energy, or DOE, awarded $3,702,880 to Siemens Energy, Inc. and its partners UC Berkeley, Constellation Energy and Battelle to accelerate the development of negative emissions technology in the form of direct air capture, or DAC.

The research team at UC Berkeley is partnering with Siemens Energy to focus on direct air capture technology, which involves extracting and trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to Tarek Zohdi, principal investigator of the study and Berkeley’s engineering associate dean for research.“In November 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched Carbon Negative Shot, an all-hands-on-deck call for innovation in carbon dioxide removal pathways that will capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it,” the DOE spokesperson said in an email. “[It] requires the investment of funding and resources to enable the scale-up of multiple carbon dioxide removal approaches in support of achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.”

According to a DOE spokesperson, the grants will serve to support the development and commercialization of carbon removal technologies that propel the Carbon Negative Shot initiative.

Zohdi specified that his team and Siemens Energy are focused on a type of DAC technology that uses large drums containing sorbents to capture and store carbon dioxide. These drums are frequently rotated out, with new containers replacing those with sequestered carbon dioxide.

“We are at the prototype stage, that is why we need simulation technologies to explore many ‘what if’ scenarios during construction,” Zohdi said in an email.

The campus College of Engineering and Siemens Energy are in charge of optimizing potential sites of DAC hubs through simulations and the creation of a digital replica, which allows researchers to explore countless configurations and designs of hubs in the virtual world.

Zohdi noted in the email that the expertise UC Berkeley has in the areas of structural mechanics, fluid mechanics, digital-twin simulations, atmospheric sciences and more will serve as “key ingredients” for DAC design.

Projects funded by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, or FECM, must establish community benefit plans, the DOE spokesperson noted, and FECM is partnering with communities nationwide to drive economic and technological development “as the United States works toward building a clean energy and industrial economy.”

“This project is only an initial step towards understanding how to tackle this problem in a massive scale,” Zohdi said in an email. “There are many technologies that will have to be developed in parallel to deal with the problem. We are attempting to provide the most energy efficient method for large scale sequestering.”

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SEPTEMBER 11, 2023