Climeworks launches world’s first commercial plant to capture CO2 from air; potential for CO2-neutral fuels
Switzerland-based Climeworks, a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), recently launched the world’s first commercial plant that captures atmospheric CO2 for supply and sale to a customer. The Swiss direct air capture company—which has also partnered with Audi in that company’s e-fuels initiative (earlier post)—launched the commercial-scale Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant, featuring its patented technology that filters carbon dioxide from ambient air.
The plant is now supplying 900 tonnes of CO2 annually to a nearby greenhouse to help grow vegetables. The plant is a historic step for negative emissions technology—earmarked by the Paris climate agreement as being vital in the quest to limit a global temperature rise of 2 °C. Climeworks aims to capture 1% of global CO2 emissions by 2025.
Founded by engineers Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, Climeworks developed its technology to capture atmospheric carbon with a filter, using mainly low-grade heat as an energy source. In Hinwil the DAC plant has been installed on the roof of a waste recovery facility—operated by the municipal administration union KEZO—with its waste heat powering the Climeworks DAC plant.
|Switzerland moving to accept CO2-neutral synthetic fuels to reduce fleet emissions|
|The association cleanfuelnow reports that the Swiss Council of States—the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly— recently adopted the motion by Swiss National Council member Thomas Böhni (earlier post) to recognize carbon-neutral E-synthetic fuels as a means to reduce fleet emissions.|
|The lower chamber, the National Council, adopted the motion last year.|
|This technology is exemplified by Climeworks and Germany-based Sunfire. It is possible to use this fuel in all current infrastructure, including fueling stations, and all vehicles.|
|Currently, the EU does not recognize CO2-neutral synthetic fuels in its policy.|
During the Climeworks capture process, CO2 is chemically deposited on the filter surface. Once the filter is saturated, the CO2 is then isolated at a temperature of about 100 °C. The pure captured CO2 gas can then be sold to customers in key markets, including: commercial agriculture; food and beverage industries; the energy sector; and the automotive industry.
In Hinwil, Climeworks provides a continuous supply of CO2 through an underground pipeline to a greenhouse 400m away, operated by Gebrüder Meier Primanatura AG, to assist with growing vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers.
The Hinwil plant will operate as a three-year demonstration project in co-operation with the partners Gebrüder Meier and KEZO, and with a contribution towards non-amortizable costs by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE).
Highly scalable negative emission technologies are crucial if we are to stay below the two- degree target of the international community. The DAC-technology provides distinct advantages to achieve this aim and is perfectly suitable to be combined with underground storage. We’re working hard to reach the goal of filtering one per cent of global CO2 emissions by 2025. To achieve this, we estimate around 250,000 DAC-plants like the one in Hinwil are necessary.—Christoph Gebald, co-founder and managing director of Climeworks
Capturing CO2 locally for industrial uses enables customers to reduce their emissions and lessen their dependence on fossil fuels, as currently most industrial CO2 is transported from fossil point sources via truck to industries on site. In comparison to other carbon capture technologies, a modular Climeworks plant can be employed almost anywhere.
In coming months Climeworks plans to launch additional commercial pilot projects in key target markets and wants to test its technology’s potential to deliver negative emissions by combining it with underground storage.