COP28: This UAE startup turns CO2 into rocks in less than a year

The company won the prestigious Earthshot Prize, founded by Britain’s Prince William and The Royal Foundation in 2022

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo: Founders (from left to right) – Ehab (Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer), Talal (Founder and CEO), Karan (Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer)
Photo: Founders (from left to right) – Ehab (Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer), Talal (Founder and CEO), Karan (Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer)

Published: Fri 1 Dec 2023, 12:18 PM

Last updated: Mon 4 Dec 2023, 12:43 PM

A startup in UAE that turns carbon dioxide into rocks is one of the companies exhibiting at Cop28. The company, called 44.01, speeds up the process of certain stones absorbing carbon dioxide and mineralising it, and is hoping to scale its technology internationally.

“We work with a stone called peridotite that absorbs carbon dioxide,” said Chalie Booth, Head of External Relations at 44.01. “Peridotite is abundantly found in Oman and the UAE. The rock has a remarkable capacity to mineralize carbon dioxide. However, the process of mineralisation naturally takes decades. What we are doing is accelerating that process so that we can eliminate CO2 in less than a year."

History

First established in Oman by Talal Hasan, the company won the prestigious Earthshot Prize, founded by Britain’s Prince William and The Royal Foundation in 2022. Talal, who has extensive experience dealing with energy projects in Oman, UAE, and the UK saw an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the environment with 44.01.

Photo: The team winning the 2022 Earthshot Prize- at the front are Talal and Juerg Matter
Photo: The team winning the 2022 Earthshot Prize- at the front are Talal and Juerg Matter

“He was looking at ways of investing in technologies that can help deal with the region's problems,” said Charlie. “He was looking at carbon capture and the question arose, what do you do with the captured carbon once it's been captured? That is when he discovered research showing this mineralisation process was happening naturally.”

From there, Talal explored how to harness this process in a way that makes a big difference to the climate. He worked with scientist Juerg Matter as well as co-founders Karan Khimji and Ehab Tasfai and 44.01 developed technology that accelerates mineralization by mixing captured CO2 with water and injecting it into peridotite formations deep underground.

Coming to the UAE

After proving the technology was effective, safe and had no adverse impact on the environment through pilots in Oman, the company expanded to the UAE with a mineralisation pilot in Fujairah, earlier this year. The project, a partnership with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Compnay, the Fujairah Natural Resources Corporation (FNRC) and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) is the first peridotite mineralisation project to utilise seawater.

Photo: The company's project in Fujairah with ADNOC, FNRC and Masdar
Photo: The company's project in Fujairah with ADNOC, FNRC and Masdar

According to Charlie, although Peridotite mineralization is a promising technique, it alone cannot be the solution to climate change. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that by 2050, we might need to be absorbing as much as 15 billion tonnes of carbon a year,” he said. "So while our technology could be part of the solution, we will also need things like reforestation, conventional CO2 storage, and most importantly emissions reductions. 44.01's technology can offer a solution in places that other solutions might not work, for example countries that might not have conventional storage resources but have an abundance of peridotite. We're working hard to take our technology to scale so we can make a difference internationally.”

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