The Swiss company Climeworks has removed CO2 from the air and put it underground

Climeworks carbon removal plant in Hellisheidi, Iceland.

Photo courtesy of Climeworks

Swiss company Climeworks announced on Thursday that it has successfully removed carbon dioxide from the air and injected it into the ground, where it eventually becomes rock in a process verified by an independent independent auditor. It’s the first time a company has successfully removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, taken it underground for permanent containment, and delivered that permanent carbon removal to a paying customer.

The development has been a long time coming. Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher founded Climeworks in 2009 as a spin-off from ETH Zurich, the most important technical university in Switzerland’s largest city. They have scaled the technology for direct carbon removal, where machines suck greenhouse gases out of the air.

In the last couple of years MicrosoftStripe duck Shopify have purchased all future Climeworks carbon removal services to boost the burgeoning industry. Now Climeworks actually removes the carbon dioxide and puts it underground in a process certified by DNV, an independent auditor.

The cost of carbon removal and storage for these corporate customers is confidential and depends on the amount of carbon dioxide the company wants to remove and over what period of time. But the overall cost of CO2 removal is in the hundreds of dollars per ton. Individuals can also pay Climeworks to remove carbon dioxide to offset their personal emissions.

As well as getting corporate clients to pay for future moves, Climeworks has raised more than $780 million from a variety of investors, including venture capitalist John Doerr and insurance company Swiss Re.

Climework’s largest carbon removal facility is in Iceland, where it works with CarbFix, which stores the gas underground. CarbFix dissolves carbon dioxide in water and then mixes this mixture with basalt rock formations. Natural processes convert the material into solid carbonate minerals in about two years.

In June, Climeworks announced it had begun construction of its second commercial-scale facility in Iceland, which will capture and store 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Even when completed, it will represent only a tiny percentage of the total global emissions of carbon dioxide released into the air each year: in 2021, they reached a record high of 36.3 billion tons, according to the International Energy Agency.

The rise of the carbon removal industry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *