Switzerland has switched on the world’s first carbon capture plant to commercially remove CO2 from the air. The Swiss company, Climeworks, will begin operations at a facility in Hinwil, Zurich. It is now the world’s first company to compress CO2 it traps and use it as fertilizer to grow crops in vegetable farms.
The direct air capture (DAC) carbon capture plant is capable of removing 900 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere annually. This is a modest amount when you take into account the 10 gigatonnes per year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is determined to capture in order to halt global warming.
Carbon Capture Plant In Zurich
The carbon trapped from the air will be supplied into greenhouses owned by Gebrueder Meier Primanatura AG in Hinwil. The compressed carbon will be used as a fertilizer to boost the growth of vegetables. The gas will also be used to make carbonated drinks and carbon-neutral fuels.
Climeworks wants to scale its technology over the coming decade. It aims to trap one percent of global annual CO2 emissions by 2025. In order to do so, there would need to be about 25,000 similar plants.
Climeworks carbon capture plant is near a waste utilization facility that powers the process. The waste utilization plant is run by Swiss municipal waste disposal company KEZO. Humungous fans push air through a filter system that captures CO2. The filter when saturated separates CO2 at temperatures above 100 degrees Celsius. Depending on factors such as air composition and weather conditions, the facility can capture 2460 kgs of CO2 per day.
The Zurich facility is intended to run as a three-year demo project. By the end of 2018, Climeworks intends to launch additional commercial ventures, including some that would bury CO2 underground in order to achieve negative emissions.
The captured gas will be supplied through a pipe to the greenhouse gas to grow vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes.
CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE
Other companies, such as Calgary, Canada-based Carbon Engineering are working to capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. It is backed by well-acclaimed investors, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and financier N. Murray Edwards.
However, the technology is quite controversial for its cost. A year ago, climate scientists published a paper in the Science arguing that the carbon capturing technology takes the focus away from reducing greenhouse gases emissions. Although, governments and sustainability agencies around the world are now looking into the business model to offset carbon emissions.
In 2013, Climeworks partnered with Audi to use its technology to produce synthetic fuels.