Carbon removal deal is global airline first

easyJet has become the first airline in the world to sign a contract with Airbus for its carbon-removal initiative. Available through the Airbus Carbon Capture Offer, the technology uses Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS), to offer airlines worldwide carbon removal credits to advance their decarbonisation goals.

DACCS technology filters and removes CO2 emissions directly from the air using high powered extraction fans. CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere during aircraft operations cannot be directly eliminated at source but with DACCS, an equivalent amount can be extracted from the air. The technology is complementary to other carbon reduction technologies such as the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

A DAC facility acts like a large-scale, highly efficient tree: it sucks air out of the atmosphere and extracts the CO2 present there. Airbus say by 2030, there will likely be dozens of such facilities around the world. At present and this technology is still in its infancy.

The technology is simple: a large fan draws air into an air contactor, which is modelled on industrial cooling towers. The air passes over thin plastic surfaces with a non-toxic potassium hydroxide solution flowing over them to trap the CO2 molecules as a carbonate salt.

The carbonate salt is separated from the solution using a pellet reactor. The carbon pellets are then heated in a calciner to release the CO2 as pure gas. Lastly, the processed pellets are hydrated in a device called a “slaker” and recycled for use in the original capture solution.

The captured pure CO2 can then either be stored underground or reused for the production of, for example, Power-to-Liquid fuel through a complementary process called AIR TO FUELS. The former, known as carbon storage or sequestration, involves injecting the CO2 into saline formations more than a kilometre below the earth’s surface. As a result, CO2 is permanently and safely stored underground.

easyJet’s group markets director at easyJet, Thomas Haagensen, said: “Decarbonising a hard to abate sector, such as aviation, is a huge challenge and we believe carbon removal will play an important role in addressing our residual emissions in the future, complementing other components to help us achieve our pathway to net zero. Our ultimate aim is to achieve zero carbon emission flying and, as well as investing into important projects like direct air carbon capture technology, we are working with multiple partners – including Airbus – to accelerate the development of zero carbon emission aircraft technology.”

easyJet was amongst the first airlines to sign an agreement with Airbus in 2022, committing to engage in negotiations on the possible pre-purchase of verified and durable carbon removal credits. easyJet’s credits will last from 2026 to 2029. The carbon removal credits will be issued by Airbus’ partner 1PointFive. Airbus’ agreement with 1PointFive includes the pre-purchase of 400,000 tonnes of carbon removal credits to be delivered over four years.

Julie Kitcher, Executive Vice President Communications, Sustainability & Corporate Affairs at Airbus, added: “easyJet is a strong advocate of decarbonisation, for its operations and the wider aviation sector. This agreement demonstrates the airline’s willingness to extend its environmental commitment through Airbus’ Carbon Capture Offer. Initiatives such as this one underline Airbus’ commitment to decarbonisation solutions for our industry and to, bringing together airlines and industry players from all sectors in order to build a sustainable aviation ecosystem.”