According to Quartz, Swiss engineering startup Climeworks has opened the world’s largest “direct air capture” (DAC) plant called Orca in Hellisheiði last Wednesday. It is said to draw down the volume of carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to approximately 870 cars.
The plant is designed to suck in CO2 from the air. It consists of eight large boxes which all include fans that pull in air. At the start of the process, the machine filters CO2 out of the air and mixes it with water. After that it pumps the captured CO2 into underground wells, where it will turn into stone after a few years.
This method is very efficient at removing CO2 from circulation of the atmosphere. There are dozens of smaller DAC plants operating in the US, Canada and Europe, but since Orca started working, the global DAC capacity has grown by about 50%.
The funding for Orca comes from utilizing a new type of business model known as sale of offsets. In this case, a Swiss reinsurance company Swiss Re paid Climeworks $10 million to remove CO2 from the air. In return, Swiss Re’s carbon footprint is reduced.
There are competing DAC projects underway in the US and Scotland, but for now Iceland’s Orca bears the title of the world’s largest DAC machine.
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