Inside Charm Industrial’s Big Bet on Cornstalks for Carbon Removal

Reinhardt says Charm will only take half the farm equipment on a given field, and he notes that putting the resulting biochar and ash in the fields will improve soil health. He adds that competing uses for maize depend on the region, but much of it is not sold or plowed, leaving it to rot and release carbon dioxide.

But he points out that Charme will properly account for alternative uses, land use changes and those other factors.

The company’s internal carbon calculations estimate that when the company uses its own pyrolyzers, the process typically removes the equivalent of 0.85 tonnes of carbon dioxide for every tonne of biomass. Reinhardt says Charm will improve those numbers over time by switching to carbon-neutral syngas instead of diesel to start the pyrolysis process, optimizing its pyrolyzers to convert plant matter into bio-oil and eventually switching to trucks. electrical.

The role of government

Robert Höglund of Marginal Carbon AB, a consultancy specializing in carbon removal and climate policy, says Charm customers are today paying $600 a ton to help “launch” the approach, betting that the ‘business will be able to cut costs. . But he says it’s unclear whether Charm’s method will prove to be among the most efficient, scalable or affordable over time, or the best use of this biomass as the need for energy sources grows. ever more renewable.

Companies are also unlikely to continue buying enough carbon to reach the billions of tonnes a year that may eventually be needed, both to stabilize global temperatures and to support emerging companies to extract the gases. air greenhouse.

Indeed, investors and startups are betting that governments will enact laws that subsidize, encourage, or mandate these practices. Reinhardt, for his part, acknowledges that government policy will be crucial in developing the off-carbon markets that will allow his company and others to thrive.

He says Charm is working to educate lawmakers in California and Washington, D.C., calling for greater support for the fledgling industry as well as technology-neutral rules as researchers and companies explore a variety of routes.

“Enterprise buyers like Microsoft, Stripe and Shopify will only achieve such scale, and then regulation will have to step in,” Reinhardt said in an email, adding, “So much innovation has happened in the space, and we just need to unlock it.