This spring, the world’s first industrial scale facility to capture carbon from the air is scheduled to start operating in Switzerland.

CO2 written in clouds

The plant uses carbon dioxide collectors that pull air inside and across reusable filters, resulting in pure CO2 gas that can be sold for industrial use, for example to soft-drink makers for carbonation.

Dominique Kronenberg is COO of Climeworks, the company building the new plant.

Kronenberg: “It can pull from the air anywhere on the planet so you don’t need any transportation of CO2 because you capture it where it is used or where your final application is for CO2.”

Capturing carbon from the air is harder than directly from a coal plant, and the process uses a lot of energy. But this new technology can run on waste heat and electricity, so the company may have found a way to make carbon capture from air profitable.

For now, this technology will not impact the climate since the carbon that is captured will be released back into the air by the end user. But Climeworks hopes to eventually use the carbon to create a synthetic fuel, providing a new way to power vehicles without burning additional fossil fuels.

The project, backed by the Swiss government, hopes to have its first test results by June 2016.

Climeworks plant

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Pam Memmott.
Photo: CO2 clouds image (copyright protected). Climeworks CO2 capture plant (source: Climeworks website).

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The World’s First Commercial Carbon Capture Plant Will Turn Pollution Into Cash
Climeworks website

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Bruce Lieberman

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...