Trinity College Dublin spinout NEG8 Carbon has developed and validated a direct air capture (DAC) technology that it is now scaling to capture millions of tonnes of CO2 per year.
The programme is Ireland’s leading sustainability programme designed to scale-up companies who are developing products and services based on green innovation in response to climate action and sustainability challenges.
“NEG8 Carbon aims to combat climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere using Direct Air Capture technology”
The current cohort of businesses employ over 70 people with turnover of more than €5m.
NEG8 Carbon specialises in the capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is an SME that was spun out from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in 2014. The company has a broad-based scientific and business focus which is represented by the founders of the company and holds international patents in the area of carbon capture.
NEG8 has developed and validated a 1 tonne CO2 capture per year pilot unit in Waterford. It is currently developing 400 tonne CO2 per year units that can be arranged in arrays to capture thousands of tonnes of CO2.
“CO2 in the atmosphere is the primary cause of climate change,” explained NEG8 CTO John Breen.
“NEG8 Carbon aims to combat climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere using Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conclude that DAC will be required to remove up to 40bn tonnes of CO2 per year. At a predicted price of $100/tonne, the worldwide market size is €0.5trn to €4trn.
“Our aim for Ireland is to capture 10m tonnes of CO2 a year – equivalent to 25% of Ireland’s current annual emissions – in the next 10 to 15 years, a market size of €1bn.”
NEG8’s core product is a DAC module capable of capturing 400 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
“The modules are stackable so that for example, if a customer wishes to capture 4,000 tonnes/annum they would purchase 10 of our units. The income stream is the sale of the captured CO2 and/or carbon offset credits for removing a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere.”
NEG8 was formed as a spinout from Trinity College Dublin.
The founders also include Prof Don MacElroy from UCD and businessman Ray Naughton.
Intellectual property was predominantly developed in UCD under the guidance of MacElroy, who was previously head of the School of Chemical Engineering at UCD. Naughton is an experienced businessman with a background in developing many high technology businesses. He works as a private investor and advisor to a number of early stage Irish technology companies.
Dr John Breen is the CTO and has expertise in commercialising chemical technology developed at third level.
A better ecosystem
NEG8 is based in the south-east and has up a science incubator in Waterford.
“We have noticed that the start-up ecosystem is improving fast in the region,” said Breen.
“In the chemical sciences Ireland has lagged behind our neighbours in Europe and US in terms of start up ecosystem. However, we have built up on our manufacturing base (especially in pharma and bio-pharma) introduced by foreign direct investment (FDI) into Ireland (predominantly) from the 1990s onwards and developed expertise in both operations and R&D.
“This has given the basis to allow entrepreneurship to start to flourish. We still have some catching up to do but are moving in the right direction.”
Breen said NEG8 recently raised funding will be going out to the market to attract more funding in the year ahead.
His advice for fellow innovators: “Think of the bigger picture but don’t get overawed by it, learn to focus on achieving bite-sized goals that impact the bigger picture. Have the flexibility and adaptability to change tack if and when required.”
Main image at top: NEG8 Carbon CCO Adrian Costigan and CTO John Breen