Honda May Bet on Carbon Removal to Clean its Factories

Honda may be placing its hopes on carbon capture to reach bold net-zero goals – despite the tech’s high price tag.

Photo of a Honda patent
Photo via U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

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Honda wants to make its factories a little bit greener. It may be eyeing carbon removal to do so.

The automaker is seeking to patent a system for creating a “load profile” of factories to remove greenhouse emissions. This aims to estimate and track the emissions of factories and corresponding power plants and remove a certain amount of carbon accordingly. 

Honda’s tech aims to “allow the factory to work in tandem with the power plant to reduce overall greenhouse emissions” using direct air capture, the company noted in the filing. 

Honda’s system relies on creating “load profiles” for manufacturing facilities and power plants, which track a factory’s energy use and the power generated by the plant to fuel it. This system may also estimate the power consumption of the factory and the power demand of the power plant before the energy has been used.

In response, this system directs a “greenhouse emission capturing device” to remove a certain amount of carbon from the surrounding region. The tracking and estimating of emissions in advance may “increase efficiency of removal of the greenhouse emissions at the time of operation,” Honda noted. 

“The greenhouse emission capturing device may work to absorb the greenhouse emissions both from the factory and the power plant to achieve a net zero greenhouse emission, over a certain period of time, such as, a 24-hours period,” the company said.

Honda is one of several automakers with ambitious climate goals. The company aims to be carbon-neutral throughout all corporate activities and products by 2050. The firm also aspires to sell 2 million EVs annually by 2030, and solely zero-emissions vehicles by 2040.

Honda has made some headway through a variety of initiatives, including plans to unveil a new EV line in 2026, investing billions in EV factories in Canada, researching and patenting carbon credit systems for drivers, and even planting 85,000 trees near its factories in Ohio. Carbon capture technology may also be part of its plans to whittle down its emissions to net zero. 

In theory, Honda’s patent makes sense: Track and estimate carbon to remove emissions that it has caused over a certain period of time. The concept could help greatly limit Scope one and Scope two emissions, or the ones that the company is directly responsible for, by taking into account the carbon coming from the manufacturing as well as from the plant that’s powering them. 

And Honda’s not the only company that may see carbon capture and removal as the answer to undoing emissions they simply can’t cut down. Microsoft, Shopify, Stripe, and other tech firms have also made major bets on the technology. 

In practice, however, carbon capture and removal technology simply isn’t there yet, said Daniel Stein, founder of climate giving consultancy Giving Green. “There isn’t really a cost-effective or written removal device that they can reasonably ramp up and down now,” Stein said. 

As it stands, carbon capture is far too expensive to do at scale. Removing carbon from the air costs around $600 to $1,000 per ton of CO2, and needs to drop below $200, according to the World Economic Forum. Honda betting on the availability of a highly efficient carbon removal device for the tech in this patent to work, Stein said, is “a little bit aspirational.” 

“This really relies on a much more efficient carbon removal system than is currently in operation,” said Stein. “I don’t see how you could actually use this now to get to net zero for a factory, even if the factory was using very minimal electricity.”