As we urge action against climate change, fighting the pollution is one of the crucial phases for saving the planet. Fossil fuels cause environmental pollution and create intense greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. In order to protect the atmosphere from this major crisis, technologies are being developed to eliminate carbon emissions, which are high in greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon capture and storage are the most common techniques to eliminate global carbon emissions. The technology called CCS is planned to be among the important business in the next 10 years. This industry is expected to reach a size of $800 billion by 2030.
A Zurich-based carbon capture company Climeworks is one of them that work on this. The company announced that it has launched the facility called Orca in Iceland. This center is the world’s first and largest Direct Air Capture (DAC) and storage facility. The facility, which took 15 months to build, runs on renewable energy supplied by the nearby geothermal power plant.
There is a new plant in Iceland that is operational now called Orca which operators claim that it can absorb 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air each year and send it deep into the ground to be mineralized. The Orca, which means “energy” in Icelandic, is the largest facility in the world, designed to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into rock, according to the companies behind the project.
Jan Wurzbacher, co-founder of Climeworks, said: “Ocra is a milestone directly in the air capture industry. With this plant, we are ready to rapidly expand our capacity in the coming years. Yet achieving zero emissions globally is still a long way off.” he says, revealing the importance of the facility.
How does carbon capture and storage work?
The human-sized fans are placed in a series of boxes in shipping containers. These fans sip the carbon dioxide in the air and capture it in spongy filters. The filters spray it with heat, releasing the gas at the same temperature needed to boil the water. The gas is then pumped into the underground basalt caves, where it is mixed with water and cooled over time, turning into dark gray stone.
The facility, which consists of shipping container-like units, built by Switzerland-based Climeworks and Iceland-based Carbfix, will extract 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year. This number equates to emissions from approximately 870 cars, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Proponents of “carbon capture and storage” believe these technologies could be an important tool in the fight against climate change. However, critics argue that the facility, which costs between $10 and $15 million, is extremely expensive.
Swiss engineer Christoph Gebald, co-founder and partner of Climeworks, said the current costs of the plant are high. The technology costs about $600-800 per 1000 kilograms of carbon dioxide. This is far from the $100-$150 per tonne required to make a profit without any government subsidies. However, Gebald believes that they can reduce costs to $200-300 per tonne by 2030. It is estimated that by the end of the 2030s, this could be reduced to half as Climeworks aim to reach 1 billion people to use direct air capture technology.