the evidence is piling up: average surface temperatures on land and water have been steadily increasing over the past years, record high temperatures occur unusually often, glaciers and snow are disappearing, ocean levels are rising—climate change isn’t just a future scenario, but a worldwide problem that is troubling environmental activists, politicians and industry. A decisive factor is carbon-dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. Along with new, more sustainable concepts for mobility, there is now another starting point to reduce pollutant emissions: biofuel. Instead of burning normal gasoline or diesel fuel, combustion engines could transform more environmentally-friendly materials into energy. Thus far renewable raw materials have been used to produce synthetic fuels, but this requires huge areas of land for cultivation. Now scientists want to extract the harmful carbon dioxide out of the air instead and recycle it into fuel. Processes for extracting carbon dioxide from the air are already available in certain industries, spaceflight and submarines. Yet despite the many advantages, including infinite availability and a minimized carbon footprint, the process has huge shortcomings: production is expensive and cannot compete with low crude oil prices.But what if this type of biofuel could be produced much more easily than before and were affordable for everyone? The company Carbon Engineering has been working on this for the past ten years—and says it is now on the verge of a breakthrough. David Keith, the company’s founder and a professor of applied physics at Harvard, announced in 2018 that he had succeeded in developing an efficient and cost-effective process. While transforming a ton of carbon dioxide from the air currently costs around 600 euros, Keith can process the same amount for just 94 US dollars. He and his team are currently testing the large-scale application of their “Direct Air Capture” technology. In this new process the separated carbon dioxide is purified for use and storage. Water and energy are then used to produce compressed carbon dioxide, which can then be used to create biofuel. “We use hydroelectric power in our project factory to generate the energy we need to produce hydrogen,” Keith explains. Since the process is very energy-intensive, using a regenerative energy source is the only way to achieve a neutral carbon footprint. The biofuel made of carbon dioxide also releases carbon dioxide when it is burned, of course, but only as much as was taken from the air to produce it, meaning the process remains carbon neutral. This new technology has already attracted investors including Bill Gates and Murray Edwards, who also support other companies such as Global Thermostat and Climeworks, in addition to Carbon Engineering. And it might not be that long until this technology can be mass produced. “As of yet this has all been taking place only in our project factory in British Columbia,” Keith says. But a new factory that can produce two hundred barrels of fuel per day is set to open in the coming year. “There are still a few ifs and buts with the method, but when they’ve been overcome our process can contribute to reducing climate change,” Keith explains.