In a world’s first, Climeworks, a spinoff from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) opened their plant, capturing CO2 directly from the air. The Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant in Hinwil (Zurich, Switzerland) can filter 900 tonnes of CO2 per year. Here’s how it works: air flows through collectors containing a filter, which chemically bounds CO2. Once the filter is saturated with CO2, it is heated to around 100 °C. The CO2 is then released from the filter and collected as concentrated CO2 gas to supply to customers in key markets, including commercial agriculture, food and beverage industries, as well as synthetic renewable materials and fuels.
Indeed, the plant delivers the captured CO2 to a nearby greenhouse, where cucumbers and tomatoes are fertilized; this way, the vegetables’ growth is expected to be increased by up to 20%. The plant itself was constructed on the roof of a waste recovery facility, which provides the waste heat to power the DAC plant.
The captured CO2 could also be sold for negative emissions technologies or stored underground. The filter can last for several thousand of these cycles.
The strength of Climework’s plant is its flexibility; it is modular, scalable and does not have to be located at the source of emissions, eliminating the need for truck transport or access to a natural gas grid which conventional CO2 sources have to rely on. It can be employed almost anywhere to generate a CO2 supply close to the customer.
Climeworks’ vision is the elimination of 1% of global CO2 emissions by 2025. They estimate the amount equals the performance of 250,000 of their plants. Reducing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere through negative emissions would be an important contribution to keeping global warming below two degrees, as designated by the Paris Agreement of 2016.