Swiss Climeworks announced that it has successfully collected carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and trapped it underground for the first time in a validated process. The basis of the process is carbon removal technology.
Swiss company Climeworks announced in a statement that it successfully removed carbon dioxide from the air and stored it underground through a process verified by an independent third-party auditor. This achievement also represents a first. It’s the first time a company has successfully removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and put it permanently under it.
The Carbon Capture Industry Is Developing
Climeworks’ carbon removal technology has actually been in development for a long time. Founded in 2009, Climeworks uses and scales direct decarbonization (DAC) technology that enables machines to vacuum greenhouse gases from the air. According to the press release, Climeworks’ carbon removal technology and process has also been approved with the third-party auditor firm.
Over the last few years, Microsoft, Stripe, and Shopify have invested in Climeworks to support this emerging industry. Firms can pay Climeworks to offset their carbon emissions, but the price is kept secret for now. “Microsoft is proud to be one of the first enterprise customers to receive Climeworks certified carbon dioxide removal services,” said Phillip Goodman, Director of the Microsoft Carbon Removal Portfolio, demonstrating its belief in this technology. However, anyone can pay Climeworks to offset their individual emissions.
Climeworks’ largest carbon dioxide capture facility is located in Iceland, where it partners with CarbFix, which stores the gas underground. CarbFix dissolves the collected carbon dioxide and then mixes it with the basalt rock formation. With the subsequent natural process, it turns into solid carbonate minerals in about two years.
Technology Is Still Young and Expensive
Besides all this, carbon removal/capture technology is quite expensive for now. The decarbonization process is essentially a technology that mimics what a tree does. This technique is seen as an important alternative in the fight against climate change. By 2050, the world needs to reach the “net zero” target, that is, we need to equalize the amount of carbon dioxide we emit with the amount of carbon dioxide we eliminate.
In June, Climeworks began construction of its second commercial-size facility in Iceland with a capacity of 36,000 metric tons per year. The company aims to reach a capacity of one million tons per year by 2030 and 1 billion tons by 2050. But even when this facility is completed, it will still account for a small percentage of the total global carbon dioxide emissions released into the air each year. According to the International Energy Agency, a record amount of 36.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere in 2021 alone.