Climeworks Launches World’s Largest DAC Facility in Iceland

iceland waterfall at cave mouth

From capturing air to storing stone, Climeworks' Mammoth Plant turns Iceland's natural beauty into a hub for carbon removal. (InnovationPhoto by Andrey Andreyev on Unsplash)

by | May 17, 2024

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Climeworks has commenced operations at its largest direct air capture and storage (DAC+S) plant to date, dubbed ‘Mammoth,’ in Iceland. This facility, which is about ten times larger than its predecessor, Orca, represents a significant advancement in DAC technology.

Situated near the Hellisheidi geothermal plant and a dormant volcano, Mammoth has 72 industrial fans designed to capture 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. By leveraging geothermal energy to power its operations, Mammoth aims to optimize CO2 removal efficiency. This ambitious project builds on the success of the Orca facility and quadruples Climeworks’ carbon capture capacity, demonstrating the potential for scalable DAC technology to combat global warming.

Innovative Carbon Storage Solutions

After the CO2 is captured, it undergoes an intricate storage process developed by Carbfix. The gas is dissolved in water and injected into volcanic basalt 700 meters underground, where it mineralizes upon contact with the subsoil’s magnesium, calcium, and iron content. This forms solid reservoirs of CO2 that are effectively stored long-term.

Climeworks’ Chief System Development Officer Bergur Sigfusson describes the storage process as a “giant SodaStream,” highlighting the technology’s unique yet practical nature. The company also tests innovative methods to further optimize carbon storage, like using seawater injection for mineralization.

The Road Ahead for Direct Air Capture

Despite technological advancements, Climeworks recognizes that DAC remains a nascent technology that requires substantial investment to achieve global carbon neutrality goals. Co-founder Jan Wurzbacher acknowledges the cost challenges, aiming to reduce per-ton costs to $300 by 2030. The start-up plans to deploy its technology across various global locations, including the United States, Canada, and Norway.

Climeworks relies on carbon credits to support expansion, which have drawn investments from organizations like Lego. However, critics warn that carbon credits should not grant companies a “license to pollute,” emphasizing the need for balanced approaches incorporating renewable energy and electric vehicles.

By pursuing technological refinement, public-private funding partnerships, and innovative storage infrastructure, Climeworks hopes to catalyze a meaningful global shift toward sustainable emissions reductions.

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