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B.C.-based Carbon Engineering Ltd. has secured multimillion-dollar investments from Air Canada AC-T and aircraft manufacturer Airbus SE to scale up and improve its technology for extracting CO2 from the atmosphere, the latest in a series of funding announcements from big-name backers.

Carbon Engineering said the funding will go to research and development at its innovation centre in Squamish, B.C. The work there is aimed at improving the efficiency and reducing costs of the direct-air capture technology, one of a number of methods being used around the world to remove greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change.

“By providing the funding, they’re allowing us to go faster. We have an ambitious program and it requires lots of labour and equipment,” Daniel Friedmann, chief executive officer of Carbon Engineering, said in an interview. “The more funding we have to move things forward, the more things we can do in parallel.”

Air Canada contributed $6.75-million in an equity investment and loan. Airbus did not disclose the size of its investment, though Mr. Friedmann said it is significant.

The company’s technology involves removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with large banks of fans and turns it into pure carbon dioxide. The CO2 can be stored underground or used as feedstock for carbon-neutral products. In the case of aerospace, the aim is to produce sustainable aviation fuel in sufficient quantities and to remove residual emissions.

Carbon Engineering previously made headlines by attracting investments from BHP, Chevron Corp., Occidental Petroleum Corp., Canadian billionaire Peter J. Thomson, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and resource magnate Murray Edwards. Houston-based Occidental aims to build 100 direct-air capture plants by 2035.

Occidental unit 1PointFive is building the first plant in Texas. Earlier this year, Airbus agreed to buy 400,000 tonnes of carbon removal credits from the facility, located in the Permian Basin. When operational in 2025, the plant will be the largest of its kind, with CO2 removal capacity of one million tonnes a year.

Mr. Friedmann said the Texas facility will sequester CO2 at a commercial scale, generating carbon credits when it starts up. A new facility planned for Merritt, B.C., would produce synthetic fuel. “The sustainable aviation fuel that we make is not limited by the feedstock. The current fuel that people are using is limited by land and water, and it competes with crops. We’re unlimited. We get it out of the air,” he said.

Direct-air capture and its sustainable fuel represent one of several decarbonization efforts under way at Airbus, Karine Guenan, vice-president of the aircraft maker, said at news conference at the research and development facility in Squamish. Others include more efficient planes and studies into hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Together, synthetic aviation fuel and green hydrogen have the potential to make up half the sustainable fuel supply by 2050, she said.

“This investment is also a key part of Airbus’s global climate strategy. It encourages the development and deployment of [direct-air capture] worldwide in support of the aviation industry’s decarbonization ambition,” Ms. Guenan said.

Air Canada said its contribution to Carbon Engineering is the latest from a $50-million investment fund it created to support new technology. Another is the recently announced $5-million investment in Sweden’s Heart Aerospace, which is developing hybrid aircraft.

Last year, Air Canada signed a memorandum of understanding with Carbon Engineering to explore how to scale up the technology so it is useful for the airline industry.

“We remain focused on seeking innovative, long-term, sustainable GHG emissions reduction solutions for aviation, and carbon capture is one we have outlined in our strategy to achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050,” Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau said in a statement.

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