Lee, Pyung, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Anderson, Eric, EN-Chem Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Elliott, Travis, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The Climate Paris Agreements created a committed between countries around the globe to mitigate the effects of climate change, establishing a goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Reaching this goal requires a combination of research and development of renewable technologies, the passing of energy-efficient legislation, and a collaboration between countries around the world. A key technology that would aid in this effort is carbon-negative-technologies. The technical project aims to construct a processing plant for the development of methanol Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology and blue hydrogen. This process hopes to deliver methanol, an energy dense fuel, without emitting greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. The STS research paper reviews the current United States Energy System and explores its relationship with energy poverty. This analysis utilizes the STS framework, the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) to further understand the technology among its relevant social groups.
The technical research paper lays the outline for a theoretical methanol production plant integrated with carbon-negative technologies and renewable energy sources. This goal of this plant is to remove 1.8 trillion kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually and produce 420 million kilograms of methanol annually. The traditional method of methanol production uses the gas from natural gas combustion to produce methanol. This plant, however, circumvents this issue of fossil fuel combustion, uses carbon-negative technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere as chemical feedstock. In this way, no-net emissions are emitted into the atmosphere. Blue hydrogen is hydrogen produced using a carbon capture and storage system. Blue hydrogen is used rather than regular hydrogen to limit the production of new greenhouse emissions. The plant contains both an upstream and downstream portion: the upstream process focuses on Direct Air Capture technology and the downstream processes focuses on the methanol synthesis. Overall, this process is labeled as “carbon-neutral” as the amount of carbon produced in the process is approximately equal to the amount of carbon that was retrieved from the atmosphere.
The STS research paper reviews the energy system in the United States and its impact on energy poverty. Energy poverty is defined as the lack of access to sustainable modern energy service products. SCOT was used to investigate relevant social groups to the technology and understand each of the groups perspective on the energy system. The energy impoverished view the energy system as unaffordable and look to utilities and legislation for lower energy bills. Energy utilities, another relevant social group, does not accept responsibility for high energy prices and blames other external factors that are out of their control. This relationship is further explained in case examples in Texas and Massachusetts.
A collaborative effort is required to mitigate the effects of climate change. Improved green technologies and renewable energy sources, such as direct carbon capture, is required to adhere to the Paris Climate Agreements. The combination of both the technical and socio-technical research paper illustrates the possible technologies to push back against climate change and the current barriers of energy access in society.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Direct Air Capture, Methanol, SCOT, Chemical Engineering

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Eric Anderson
STS Advisor: Travis Elliott
Technical Team Members: Rebeca Brown, Lillian Hyunh, Alex Park ,Ciara Smith

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