Nov 13, 2023 - Business

Startup capturing CO2 to double Colorado presence

Gov. Jared Polis visits Charm Industrial's Fort Lupton facility during a tour on Nov. 8. Photo: Courtesy of Charm Industrial

A carbon removal startup that uses corn to clean the air is ramping up its Colorado operations.

Why it matters: Carbon dioxide, a potent planet-warming gas, reached the highest level in human history last year. Scientists say pulling CO2 from the atmosphere will be key to avoiding a climate catastrophe.

Driving the news: Charm Industrial has announced plans to at least double its 22-person Colorado workforce by the end of 2024.

  • The Bay Area-based company welcomed Gov. Jared Polis last week to its 30,000-square-foot facility in Fort Lupton, northeast of Denver, which opened late last year.

How it works: Charm uses extremely high temperatures to heat β€” without oxygen β€” corn stalks and other residue left over from farming and forest management, breaking them into a tar-like liquid called "bio-oil."

  • That goop gets pumped deep underground where it solidifies and is stored permanently.
  • This effectively traps the CO2 in the plant-based oil instead of it being released in the air when the plants decay.
  • The company has delivered more than 6,400 tons of CO2 removal so far.

Yes, but: Just how sustainable biomass energy production has been a topic of debate.

Flashback: Charm β€” whose customers include corporate giants like Frontier and JPMorgan β€” closed on a $100 million Series B round earlier this year, allowing it to accelerate its work in Colorado and the broader corn belt, Axios Generate's Ben Geman writes.

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