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The world’s first “negative emissions” carbon capture plant has begun operation—turning carbon dioxide into stone

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Akshat Rathi October 12, 2017 read full Quartz article here

…We produce 40 trillion kg of carbon dioxide each year, and we’re on track to cross a crucial emissions threshold that will cause global temperature rise to pass the dangerous 2°C limit set by the Paris climate agreement.
…On Oct. 11, at a geothermal power plant in Iceland, the startup inaugurated the first system that does direct air capture and verifiably achieves negative carbon emissions. Although it’s still at pilot scale—capturing only 50 metric tons CO2 from the air each year, about the same emitted by a single US household—it’s the first system to convert the emissions into stone, thus ensuring they don’t escape back into the atmosphere for the next millions of years.
….Three companies—Switzerland’s Climeworks, Canada’s Carbon Engineering, and the US’s Global Thermostat—are building machines that, at reasonable costs, can capture CO2 directly from the air. (A fourth company, Kilimanjaro Energy, closed shop due to a lack of funding.)
…Climeworks and Global Thermostat have piloted systems in which they coat plastics and ceramics, respectively, with an amine, a type of chemical that can absorb CO2. Carbon Engineering uses a liquid system, with calcium oxide and water. …
…Each of the startups has built a functional pilot plant to prove their technology, with the ability to capture hundreds of kg of CO2. And all boast that their tech is modular, meaning they can build a direct air capture plant as small or large as somebody is ready to pay for. Even at $50 per metric ton of capturing emissions, if we have to capture as much as 10 billion metric tons by 2050, we are looking at spending $500 billion each year capturing carbon dioxide from the air. It seems outrageous, but it may not be if climate change’s other damages are put in perspective—and that’s what these startups are betting on….

World’s first commercial CO2 capture plant live (Climeworks in Zurich—pumps captured CO2 to greenhouse):

“Gebald said his team installed 18 carbon dioxide collectors on the roof of a garbage incineration plant outside Zurich. Powered by wasted heat from the incinerator, the collectors use fans to suck ambient air into filters, which absorb carbon dioxide. The filters are heated and the carbon dioxide is removed and piped into nearby greenhouses, which will use 900 metric tons of captured carbon to grow crops each year.”…. “It’s important to note that they will not be permanently storing the CO2 that will be captured,” she said. “Instead, it will be used for greenhouses, producing synfuels, etc. No negative emissions will be generated.”….”Negative emissions can only occur when the captured carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and then locked away forever, she said. .”… But Climeworks co-founder Christoph Gebald said the company’s carbon capture plant can be used for carbon sequestration.”

Interview with Julio Friedman on Carbon Capture Dec 2017: https://qz.com/1137197/the-compelling-case-for-capturing-carbon-emissions-and-burying-them-underground/

Carbon Capture Projects Map Dec 2017: http://www.thirdway.org/graphic/carbon-capture-projects-map

 

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