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Swiss start-up unveils mammoth carbon capture plant in Iceland

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May 8, 2024

Swiss start-up Climeworks opens its second facility in Iceland, Mammoth, to expand its carbon capture capabilities to combat climate change

Climeworks, a Swiss start-up that pioneered carbon dioxide removal technology, has unveiled Mammoth, its second facility in Iceland. Mammoth, which sits next to its predecessor, Orca, represents a big step forward in Climeworks’ capabilities, with intentions to expand carbon capture to tackle climate change.

Mammoth, located in Iceland’s stunning landscapes, works by pulling in the air via fans placed in maritime-style containers, where the trapped carbon dioxide is subsequently purified. This procedure, which is fueled by the neighboring ON Power geothermal plant, represents the intersection of cutting-edge technology and renewable energy sources.

The CO2 gathered is compressed and dissolved in freshwater before being injected deep into the basalt rock under the surface. This subterranean storage approach, known as direct air capture with carbon storage (DACCS), initiates a chemical process that converts CO2 into calcified white crystals over a two-year time span.

According to Carbfix, the Icelandic company behind the petrification process, Mammoth’s full operational capability seeks to remove 36,000 tons of CO2 per year. Climeworks’ ambitious aim goes well beyond this, with aspirations to scale to several million tons by 2030 in conjunction with other entrepreneurs. Their ultimate ambition? By 2050, the goal is to reach one billion tons per year.

Despite these advances, Climeworks’ efforts pale in contrast to worldwide CO2 emissions, which reached an astonishing 40 billion tons last year alone. Nonetheless, Climeworks’ technique differs from standard carbon capture projects in that it targets ambient air rather than industrial emissions and converts captured CO2 into carbon credits that clients such as Lego, Microsoft, and H&M may use to offset their environmental footprint.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasized the need of CO2 removal technology in climate change mitigation. However, obstacles remain, including high costs and little public backing for new technologies. Nonetheless, Climeworks is committed to fighting climate change one carbon dioxide molecule at a time. 

Source: AFP

Last Updated:  Jun 3, 2024 4:59 PM