Climeworks turns CO2 into a resource

Posted on 26 January 2018.

The Swiss company has set up the first plant in the world to extract CO2 from the air and turn it into an economic resource.

Negative emissions technologies have a major role to play in fighting climate change.

The idea? Make CO2 captured directly from the atmosphere into an exploitable resource - Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher developed their own "negative emissions" technology and founded Climeworks.
According to Christoph Gebald, negative emissions technologies - capable of capturing greenhouse gas emissions - are set to play a major role in fighting climate change.
The two Swiss entrepreneurs have put their technological innovation to work in a waste treatment plant in Hinwil, near Zurich. The plant has eighteen collectors stacked on top of each other, each with a large fan and filter. The fan sucks in air at the beginning of the cycle, which is purified and discharged from the other side of the collector at the end of the cycle using an absorption-desorption process.
In the meantime, the filter captures the CO2. Once the filter is saturated, it is heated to 100 °C to obtain a gas almost exclusively made up of pure carbon dioxide. The gas is then released from the filter and stored as concentrated CO2.

Key markets

Climeworks promises to help companies reduce their CO2 emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. It is targeting key markets such as agriculture, the food industry, the energy sector and the automotive industry.

The company says higher CO2 levels in greenhouses pushes crop yields up 20%. In Hinwil, it supplies CO2 via an underground pipeline to the greenhouses of a market garden just 400 m from the plant.
Recycled CO2 can also be used to produce fuel or other carbon-based materials such as plastic.

Climeworks has set itself the goal of capturing 1% of the CO2 emitted on the planet by 2025. The two Swiss entrepreneurs estimate that 250,000 CO2 capture plants of this type will have to be installed if they are to meet their target... In the meantime, the company is launching several commercial pilot projects over the next few months.