It’s turning out to be difficult to electrify semi trucks that regularly travel thousands of miles carrying freight. Manufacturers such as Volvo and Peterbilt have begun to produce electric models—and Tesla’s twice-delayed semi may come out later this year—but it isn’t yet clear how quickly they’ll be adopted. In the meantime, in the U.S. alone, there are around 2 million such trucks on the road. A Detroit-based startup called Remora designed a different solution for them: a device that can capture carbon emissions directly from each tailpipe.
While other carbon-capture equipment is designed to collect pollution from power plants or even pull CO2 directly from the air, the new technology is the first to focus on mobile carbon capture.
The device can be retrofitted onto an existing truck between the truck and the trailer, and it connects to the tailpipe. Exhaust flows through a “molecular sieve,” a material with tiny pores that can capture at least 80% of the carbon dioxide the truck spews out. It can also capture carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, pollutants that are harmful to health. “The other molecules in the exhaust that are harmless, like oxygen, just pass through and head into the atmosphere,” says CEO Paul Gross. (Cofounder Christina Reynolds developed the technology as a PhD student; Gross later came across the research while studying at Yale, reached out to Reynolds, and convinced her to leave a job at the EPA to launch the startup.)