As of Wednesday, the direct capture and storage of carbon dioxide from the air on an industrial scale has become a reality: Climeworks has started operation at the world’s largest plant, Orca, which is based at Hellisheiði in Iceland and can be scaled up further. According to a press release from the company, it is removing 4,000 metric tons of CO2 from the air safely each year. It is being permanently stored using the natural mineralization process of Carbfix, a company based in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik. ON Power, an Icelandic geothermal energy provider, is supplying renewable energy for operation.
According to Climeworks, it has been able to intensify the process for the technology generation that Orca represents. This has led to a greater CO2 capture capacity per module. It adds that it has now set the precedent for a high-quality, verifiable market for CO2 capture.
Orca is also supporting the expansion of Climeworks as the technology can easily be replicated at different locations worldwide on larger scales. The innovation of the plant design is an important requirement for this. In comparison with the previous plant design, the amount of steel used in the collector units has been reduced by about half.
Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Climeworks, Jan Wurzbacher, states: “Orca, as a milestone in the direct air capture industry, has provided a scalable, flexible and replicable blueprint for Climeworks’ future expansion. […] Achieving global net-zero emissions is still a long way to go, but with Orca, we believe that Climeworks has taken one significant step closer to achieving that goal.’’
Climeworks was founded in 2009 as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and is headquartered in Zurich. The startup’s vision is to inspire one billion people to remove CO2 from the air.