Environmental company Climeworks has developed a technique for filtering carbon dioxide directly out of the air.
We have previously seen how CO2 released by steel plants can be converted into ethanol, now Swiss environmental company Climeworks has launched a pilot project designed to capture carbon dioxide from the air. Founded by engineers Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, who met while students at Swiss university ETH Zurich, Climeworks has developed technology to filter atmospheric carbon directly out of ambient air.
The Climeworks plants are housed in shipping containers, which can each hold six CO2 collectors. Each collector is capable of removing 50 tons of CO2 from the air every year. Small fans pull air into the collectors, where a filter soaks up the carbon dioxide. Once the filter is fully saturated, in about two or three hours, the collector is heated to release the CO2 as a gas, which can then be sold on for commercial use.
Climeworks’ first customer is a commercial greenhouse, which uses the CO2 to speed the growth of its tomatoes and cucumbers. Climeworks is also in talks with beverage companies that use CO2 to carbonate sparkling water or soda. The carbon capture units can be set up on the site of beverage production plants – saving the need to truck in CO2. While both of these uses eventually release the CO2 back into the air, the company also plans to use CO2 to make carbon-neutral products, such as plastics, bricks, or fuel.