Minerals could help us fight climate change. Yes, minerals.
Heirloom, a startup based in San Francisco and part of the Autodesk Foundation Energy & Materials portfolio, is innovating a new approach to fighting climate change with direct air capture via carbon mineralization. According to the company, “naturally occurring minerals—alongside forests, soils, and the ocean—are one of our planet’s most vital carbon sinks.”
Climate change is a global issue that presents several complex challenges for our planet and for us as a species. By 2100, the global temperature is projected to increase between 2 and 9.7°F (1.1 to 5.4°C), according to the latest report released by IPCC, an intergovernmental organization created by the United Nations tasked with advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change. This alarming increase in temperature will lead to more frequent and widespread disasters, including hurricanes, forest fires, mass migrations, and more.
Here’s how Heirloom is taking bold steps toward a new technology that is inspired by Earth’s own carbon removal technique to address this looming issue.
Heirloom’s mission is to remove “1 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2035, using natural processes to engineer the world’s most cost-effective Direct Air Capture solution.”
The company aims to do this through leveraging the process of carbon mineralization. A naturally occurring phenomenon, mineralization happens when certain minerals (such as different types of rocks) become exposed to carbon dioxide and then end up absorbing it, effectively trapping the gas and thus rendering the CO2 unable to return to the atmosphere as a pollutant.
Typically, this process occurs naturally over many years and geologic timescales. Heirloom is working towards utilizing technology to engineer the process and speed it up to occur over a matter of days.
As with all non-profits or startups in the Autodesk Foundation portfolio, Heirloom was given access to Autodesk software solutions and technical training, Autodesk pro bono consultants, and Autodesk industry networks to advance the design, build, and commercialization of Heirloom’s technology.
By using AutoCAD and other Autodesk software solutions such as Inventor, Heirloom can design Direct Air Capture devices that are able to withstand natural forces and achieve durability and cost goals to leverage the carbon mineralization process quickly and at a scalable level.
A particularly useful component of AutoCAD that has been helpful to Heirloom is the Electrical toolset, a specialized toolset specific to the electrical industry containing design features that help create, modify, and document electrical control systems.
“We utilize the AutoCAD Electrical toolset to help design and plan electrical control systems, for our enclosure design, and for documentation of electrical and network connectivity between facility sub systems,” says Maryam Nassar and Robert Sciog, Engineers, Heirloom. “The tool has been instrumental in generating organized and detailed electrical schematics.”
In addition, the Electrical toolset has been essential to the design and build phases of Heirloom’s first generations of passive air contactors, a key component of their Direct Air Capture devices.
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