All the efforts towards sustainability in the automotive industry are meant to cut current CO2 emissions and prevent future high levels. But what about the so-called “historic CO2” that is continuing to affect the environment? One possible solution is an “air capture machine”, and Climeworks just began operating the largest one in the world.
Iceland-based Climeworks has completed the construction of Orca in just 15 months. Made of stackable, container-size collector units, this innovative air capture machine does just that: it literally absorbs carbon dioxide straight from the air, which can then be recycled, or simply stored. Called “direct air capture”, this method could become an essential asset against global warming.
Despite being the largest facility of its kind in the world, Orca is 100% sustainable itself, running only on renewable energy. Located next to a Geothermal Power Plant, Orca has permanent access to clean energy. Thanks to its innovative design, this plant has reached a milestone in the air capture sector, with its capacity of capturing an impressive quantity of 4,000 tons of CO2 per year.
Through a partnership with Carbfix, the CO2 is then mixed with water and pumped underground, where it stays stored in stones, through a mineralization process.
Another advantage of this new facility is that, due to its modular design, it can be replicated on various scales, anywhere in the world, as long as clean energy sources are available. And this is just the beginning. Through several partnerships with companies such as Microsoft and Shopify, Climeworks intends to ramp up the technology’s capabilities even further, to eventually reach megaton removal capacity by the second half of the decade.
It’s an exciting time in the direct air capture industry – as cutting-edge technologies continue to evolve, air capture and storage plants will have the capacity to remove more CO2 than ever before.