Zurich – Greater Zurich Area startup Climeworks has developed a technology that can filter CO2 from the air. It is then stored underground or reused in other ways. Its technology is currently being tested in three countries and will soon be launched on the market.

According to the latest UN report on climate change, which was published on Monday, net CO2 emissions will have to be reduced to zero by 2050 if the world is to succeed in limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Reducing CO2 emissions alone will not be enough to achieve this ambitious goal. It will also be necessary to extract CO2 from the air. One way is of accomplishing this is by planting more trees, but new technologies are also needed.

This is where the startup Climeworks comes in. It has developed a plant that can filter CO2 from ambient air. Its technology is currently being tested in three pilot projects in Switzerland, Iceland and Italy.

What happens to the CO2 extracted from the air differs in each of the three projects. At its plant in Hinwil in the canton of Zurich, the CO2 is sold to an adjacent greenhouse as a fertilizer. In Iceland, the CO2 is bound in water and discharged underground, where it then transforms into solid minerals within two years. In Italy, the extracted CO2 and hydrogen generated on site are converted into methane and used as fuel for natural gas lorries.

According to a recently published video, Climeworks’ goal is to capture around 1 per cent of global CO2 emissions from the air by 2025. Its technology will soon be launched on the market.

Headquartered in Zurich, Climeworks is a spin-off of the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.

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