The World’s Largest Direct Air Capture Plant Is Now Pulling CO2 From the Air in Iceland

A little over four years ago, the world’s first commercial plant for sucking carbon dioxide out of the air opened near Zurich, Switzerland. The plant was powered by a waste heat recovery facility, with giant fans pushing air through a filtration system that trapped the carbon. The carbon was then separated and sold to buyers, such as a greenhouse that used it to help grow vegetables. The plant ran as a three-year demonstration project, capturing an estimated 900 tons of CO2 (the equivalent to the annual emissions of 200 cars) per year.

This week, a plant about four times as large as the Zurich facility started operating in Iceland, joining 15 other direct air capture (DAC) plants that currently operate worldwide. According to the IEA, these plants collectively capture more than 9,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Christened Orca after the Icelandic word for energy, the new plant was built by Swiss company Climeworks in partnership with Icelandic carbon storage firm Carbfix. Orca is the largest of existing facilities of its type, able to capture 4,000 tons of carbon per year. That’s equal to the emissions of 790 cars.

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