Since it was founded by Jan and Christoph in 2009, direct air capture technology company Climeworks has been working on a solution to reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. They want this solution to help to reduce the impact of climate change. After the pair met on their first day of university, they continued to spend a lot of time together, often venturing to the Swiss Alps, where they saw first hand the direct effects of climate change. After witnessing the devastating impacts on the environment around them, the passion to make a positive change was ignited within them, fuelling their passion to make a difference.
In 2017, the company commissioned the world's first commercial-scale direct air capture plant in Switzerland and the world's first carbon dioxide removal plant in Iceland, propelling their launch into their exciting new journey. However, just four years later, on the 8th of September, the company launched their latest direct air capture technology plant, fondly known as ‘Orca’, in Iceland. To date, it is the world's largest direct air capture and storage plant.
How does it work?
The CO2 is captured in a two-step process. First, air is drawn into the collector with a fan, where the carbon dioxide is then captured on a highly selective filter. Once this filter is full with carbon dioxide, the plant operators close the collector and the temperate inside is then increased between 80 and 100 °C. This releases the carbon dioxide, which can then be collected and transferred permanently and safely underground. The CO2 which has been collected can then be turned into carbonate minerals, effectively being turned to stone.
- All of Climeworks direct air capture machines are powered by renewable energy or energy from waste.
- An independent life cycle assessment has shown that the grey emissions of the machines are below 10%, which means that out of 100 tons of carbon dioxide that are captured from the air, at least 90 tons are permanently removed and only up to 10 tons are re-emitted.
- Using Orca, the company can measure precisely how much carbon dioxide has been removed from the atmosphere and made into stone.
Pictured below is an image of the new direct air capture technology.
Looking to the future, the company hopes to scale up their technology and optimise carbon intake. If successful, this new technology could help to provide many new jobs in the sector and help to support the worlds battle against climate change, helping to build back a greener, more sustainable world.