Innovation That Matters

Climeworks and Carbfix launch "Orca", the world’s largest CO2 capture and storage plant. | Photo source Climeworks

Swiss-Icelandic partnership launches the world's largest CO2 extraction plant


The plant is estimated to extract up to 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air each year

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Spotted: Switzerland-based startup Climeworks, which specialises in carbon dioxide air capturing technology, has teamed up with Icelandic carbon storage firm Carbfix, to develop the world’s largest carbon-capturing plant.

The plant has been in operation since early September 2021 and is projected to absorb 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide directly from the air each year, which, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, equates to the emissions generated by approximately 870 cars.

Named Orca, a nod to the Icelandic word “orka” meaning “energy”, the plant consists of eight collector containers, each with an annual capture capacity of 500 tonnes. High-tech filters and fans draw out the carbon dioxide from the air, producing isolated carbon which is then mixed with water and pumped 1,000 metres underground, where it eventually turns to stone through the process of mineralisation. 

The facility is powered by renewable energy, which, Climeworks says, is sourced from the nearby Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant. This is key to the process as it would be pointless to create more CO2 in order to remove it. To ensure the Orca integrated seamlessly into the surrounding Icelandic landscape, designers opted for earthy colours and natural materials.

Climeworks recently signed a US$10 million (approximately €8.56 million) deal with leading reinsurance provider, Swiss Re, in order to offset Swiss Re’s emissions. Climeworks has not disclosed its price per tonne. Swiss Re told Interesting Engineering it is “several hundred dollars.”. 

Written By: Katrina Lane

Explore more: Sustainability 



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