The world’s first commercial facility that can extract the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and resell it for commercial use has opened in Switzerland. The company Climeworks – a spin-off company from ETH Zurich institute – said the technology could help reduce one per cent of global fossil fuel emissions by 2025. The facility has been built at a site between a waste incineration plant and a large greenhouse near the village of Hinwil. The company said that the waste incineration plant will provide the heat and renewable electricity needed to run the facility, ‘Live Science’ reported. “The plant will capture 900 tonnes of CO2 per year,” said Valentin Gutknecht, a business development manager at Climeworks.
“The plant consists of several CO2 collectors, which are large boxes with filters inside. We blow air through these boxes for several hours, and after the filter is saturated, we heat the box up to 100 degrees Celsius to extract the pure CO2 and regenerate the filters,” said Gutknecht. Climeworks founders Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher first developed the Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology during their studies at ETH Zurich in the late 2000s.
They were able to extract only tiny amounts of CO2 at that time, and the researchers doubted whether the system could ever be used commercially. “CO2 capture from air has been a very controversial topic in research for a long time,” Gutknecht said. “There was a belief that the cost can not get down below $ 600 per tonne of CO2 even at the mass scale. But we have managed to break this barrier,” Gutknecht added.