Climeworks Captures Carbon Dioxide (CO2) From The Air An Recycles It To Grow Plants
Climeworks is tackling climate change and Carbon Pollution head-on. Climeworks CO2 capturing technology was developed in order to captures CO2 that is in the air and trap it in filters to reduce atmospheric carbon levels. The filters contain a compound that attracts and sticks to carbon dioxide.
They have set these filters up above waste disposal and treatment facilities. They use the heat generated from these facilities to power their fans and filters. Once the CO2 has been trapped by the filters they then release it into neighboring greenhouses to improve the speed and overall growth of food crops. Adding CO2 to greenhouses or other controlled environment agriculture facilities can increase the overall crop yield by over 20%.
Previously greenhouse and warehouse growers had to buy CO2 from fossil fuel companies, creating an unwanted association and economic driver for continued fossil fuel use.
With the Climeworks model, now there is an alternative more sustainable option for these growers who want to utilize CO2 to improve their growth rates.
Every hour one Climeworks plant can filter 72 Olympic swimming pools worth of air. However, the technology is only able to extract 2% of one swimming pools’ worth of CO2. So it will take an enormous amount of these facilities to actually even keep up with our current emission rates, let alone actually be able to bring down the current levels of atmospheric CO2. Currently, it costs Climeworks around $600 to extract one ton of CO2 from the atmosphere. Making its CO2 expensive compared to competitors.
In order for the CLimeworks model to be able to scale and be a profitable business, they will need to improve the efficiency of the carbon-capturing and bring the prices of the plants down through economies of scale by building many many more facilities.
In addition, because Climeworks sells its CO2 back to produce growers, it isn’t actually sequestering the carbon-dioxide, merely recycling it. However, it is an important first step. What Climeworks has proven is that technology can help us mitigate our carbon footprint as we make the transition from fossil fuel based energy consumers to renewable energy consumers. Technology like what Climeworks has developed can help buy us a bit of extra time, and hopefully, help us avoid raising temperatures by an average of 2 degrees Celsius, the number climate scientists have made as the benchmark to prevent irreversible climate change.
In addition, Climeworks has proven that the CO2 can be removed and stored. While they currently recycle it the option is always there to not reuse the CO2 but bury it miles below the earth’s surface where it would be trapped indefinitely. Once the technology becomes more efficient and is able to more efficiently remove and store CO2 in its filters, this approach would make more sense and would help us to start actually remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than we produce.
In fact, a geothermal plant in Iceland plans to incorporate Climeworks technology into its power plant. Their goal is to become the world’s first carbon-negative power plant and prove that we don’t need to pollute our environment in order to produce energy on a mass scale.
We love seeing technologies like this. entrepreneurs that are out to tackle massive problems not only inspire us but they motivate us to strive to have a greater impact. We love seeing what this company was able to do with so little and can’t wait to see how they grow from a startup to a company that could potentially save humanity over the coming decades. Any technologies that allow us to improve our ability to grow food while supporting a more sustainable future is something we thoroughly want to support.