Expert voices: Spiritus CEO on the future of DAC


Photo illustration of Charles Cadieu surrounded by abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Spiritus

Founders need to be maniacal about developing the best solution for their market, says Spiritus CEO Charles Cadieu.


Why he matters: Cadieu just led his Los Alamos, N.M.-based direct air capture startup out of stealth mode this week with backing from Silicon Valley venture firm Khosla Ventures and a carbon removal purchase deal with heavyweight Frontier.


This interview was edited for length and clarity.


On the DAC market:


  • "It's an incredibly exciting time...The whole project financing world is starting to see this as becoming very viable with these advanced purchases. And that's going to be a critical linchpin to really scale this market, which we saw with solar and wind.
  • Economics are going to be the major driver here. And there will be consolidation. I could imagine maybe a small handful of less than five techniques."

What was the big story in climate tech this week?


  • "Let's go with our news. It's something dear to us, and something we've been waiting to tell the world for some time."


What is going undernoticed in climate tech right now?


  • "The DAC and sequestration incentives within the IRA.
  • 45 Q gets to $180 per ton that the federal government is paying through either direct payment or tax incentive. That can really demonstrate removal for sub $100, as we're planning to at Spiritus."


What is one tip for climate tech founders?


  • "My approach is to really have the best solution in the market. I think if you're not somewhat maniacally going for that best solution, it's going to be hard to win over the long term."


What was your first job?


  • "In the summers, I would work in my dad's physics lab. I would do work on solid state physics and materials development for magnetic thin films.
  • I tried to make a device called a spin valve. That was cutting my teeth on real agony and lots of hours of futility.
  • But that also kind of developed my perseverance as to how to see deep tech through."


In three-ish words, how would you change the climate tech landscape?


  • "Rally behind solutions."