The world’s largest “CO 2 vacuum cleaner” starts up in Iceland

The world’s largest “CO 2 vacuum cleaner” starts up in Iceland
The world’s largest “CO 2 vacuum cleaner” starts up in Iceland


Mammoth, the new installation that will remove CO₂ from the air in Iceland. — © afp

With Mammoth, the Swiss company Climeworks wants to extract 36,000 tons of CO₂ directly from the air every year and store it in the Icelandic soil.

In Iceland, half an hour’s drive from the capital Reykjavik, the Swiss company Climeworks has started using a new installation to directly remove CO₂ from the atmosphere – a method that direct air capture is called. “Mammoth”, as it was baptized, is Climeworks’ second installation in Iceland after “Orca”, and will immediately become the world’s largest installation of its kind.

Mammoth is equipped with fans that draw air into the collectors, where the carbon dioxide binds with other molecules in the chemical filters. Once saturated, the doors close automatically and the bindings are heated to about 100 degrees Celsius, releasing the CO₂. This is then further purified before being stored in the ground in collaboration with the Icelandic company Carbfix.

Once it is running at full speed, the installation must remove 36,000 tons of CO₂ from the air per year. That’s nine times more than Orca, but no more than a drop in the bucket – it’s less than 0.000001 percent of the emissions emitted from burning fossil fuels in 2022. Still, Mammoth should represent a new milestone in an industry that aims to remove millions, if not billions, of tons of CO₂ from the air by mid-century to curb global warming.

Microsoft and co.

Climeworks sees Iceland as an ideal place for its installation, due to the large amount of green energy (from geothermal energy) available and the possibility of storing the CO₂ in rocks. The Swiss company is a frontrunner in the nascent industry, with another 22 projects in the pipeline, according to an analysis by research group Bloomberg NEF. If they all start up, they should remove 12 million tons of CO₂ from the air per year by the end of this decade.

Climeworks hopes to do this in a profitable way, so that it can scale up quickly. Microsoft, Shopify and JP Morgan are among its customers, paying the Swiss company about $1,000 per ton of CO₂ it removes from the air to offset their own emissions.

The article is in Dutch

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