World's Largest Carbon Capture Plant

World's Largest Carbon Capture Plant
World's Largest Carbon Capture Plant

The world's largest plant designed to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air and turn it into rock has been unveiled near Reykjavik.

A Swiss startup unveiled its second and much larger plant in Iceland to remove carbon dioxide directly from the air and store it underground, aiming to eliminate millions of tonnes of CO2 by 2030.

The new "Mammoth" facility, located next to Climeworks' pioneering "Orca" plant opened in 2021, uses 12 shipping container-sized units to filter CO2 from ambient air through a chemical process powered by geothermal energy. By year's end, the plant will have 72 units capable of capturing 36,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

The captured gas is dissolved in water and injected deep underground into basalt rock formations, where it eventually solidifies into calcite through a natural mineralization process developed by Icelandic company Carbfix.

"Climeworks is the world leader in high-quality carbon removal. So what we do is we build plants like the one behind me that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the ground." said  Christoph Gebald, co-CEO of Climeworks.

The company aims for a capacity of several million tonnes by 2030, with the global total reaching 10 million tonnes yearly from various projects using direct air capture with carbon storage (DACCS).

However, that pales in comparison to the 40 billion tonnes emitted globally last year. The UN says removing CO2 from the air will be crucial to avoid climate catastrophe, but the costly technology currently has limited funding and deployment.

Clients can purchase carbon removal credits from Climeworks to offset their emissions. But scaling up DACCS to make a significant dent will require overcoming major financial and technical hurdles.