14 Sep. 2021 16:07 clock
The world’s largest facility for the extraction and disposal of carbon dioxide from the air went into operation in Iceland. It is intended to remove 4,000 tons of CO₂ from the atmosphere and mineralize it in the soil. However, this amount corresponds to less than 5 per thousand of the emissions from just one coal-fired power station.
In Iceland, a facility from the CarbFix project went into operation, which filters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in the soil for mineralization and thus landfill.
After the Icelandic word “orka” for “energy”, the Orca system uses what is known as Direct Air Capture Technology (DAC). This is used to capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and then store it or process it in some other way. The gas can also be used to make synthetic fuels or carbonated beverages, for example.
Orca is supposed to remove 4,000 tons of CO₂ from the atmosphere every year. The total capacity of all DAC systems in the world was around 9,000 tons in 2020. However, this corresponds to only one percent of the annual emissions from just one single coal-fired power plant. However, global carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 were estimated at 31.5 billion tons.
Another disadvantage of the technology used is, according to information from Bloomberg in the consumption of large amounts of fresh water. Every ton of CO₂ is dissolved in 27 tons of fresh water. The news agency points out that it will be difficult to find another region outside Iceland in the world that has sufficient freshwater resources for the construction of the DAC systems.
In addition, the construction of the systems with this technology is too expensive. The Orca CarbFix facility is believed to have cost up to $ 15 million to build.
The co-founder of the Swiss company Climeworks Jan Wurzbacher, who built the system in cooperation with the Icelandic CarbFix project, admitted that Orca was primarily supposed to show that the technology works in principle. In the future, CarbFix wants to adapt the technology so that seawater can also be used if possible.
In addition to investments by large companies, Climeworks finances itself partly through the sale of CO₂ certificates as compensation for carbon dioxide emissions. The emission of one tonne of carbon dioxide costs about 600 dollars for the companies that cause it.
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