"Negative emissions technology" channels CO2 from air to glasshouse

A Swiss firm has opened a plant capable of capturing 900 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air each year, which is then used to enrich the growing atmosphere in a nearby salad glasshouse.

Image: Climeworks
Image: Climeworks

Claimed to be the first of its kind in the world, Climeworks' Direct Air Capture plant in the Hinwil municipality near Zurich uses mainly low-grade heat from a waste recovery facility, on whose roof it sits.

During the capture process, CO2 is chemically deposited on the filter surface until it is saturated. Next the CO2 is isolated at a temperature of about 100°C, and can then be stored and sold on.

At the Hinwil plant, Climeworks provides a continuous supply of CO2 through an underground pipeline to a 40,000m² greenhouse 400m away operated by salad vegetable grower Gebrüder Meier Primanatura.

The plant will operate as a three-year demonstration project in co-operation with the grower and waste recovery firm, and with support from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy.

Climeworks says it aims use its "negative emissions technology" to capture one per cent of all global CO2 emissions by 2025.

Climeworks co-founder and managing director Christoph Gebald said: "To achieve this, we estimate around 250,000 DAC-plants like the one in Hinwil are necessary."

Other possible uses for the captured CO2 include carbonating beverages or producing climate-neutral fuels and other materials - without incurring transport costs, as such a plant "is fully scalable and can be employed almost anywhere", the company says.

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