Swiss Company Develops DAC Plant which Removes 900 Tonnes of CO2 Annually

Swiss company Climeworks has designed a unique facility that absorbs CO2 directly from ambient air and transports it to a nearby agricultural firm via pipelines for commercial use

Climeworks founders Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher stand in front of their DAC facility. Credit: Climeworks website

Climeworks founders Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher stand in front of their DAC facility. Credit: Climeworks website

A Swiss company working in carbon technology, Climeworks has devised a plant which can extract and absorb carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and store it. The stored carbon dioxide can either be sold to industries which need carbon (carbonated drinks, carbon-neutral fuel) or transported for permanent storage. The facility can remove 900 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air on an annual basis. Currently, it has secured commercial viability by partnering with a nearby agricultural firm that buys all the carbon captured in a year to make fertilizers.

The founders of Climeworks, Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher came up with the idea when they were students of engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. One of their field visits was in 2008 to greenhouses of an agricultural enterprise, Gebrüder Meier Primanatura AG in Hinwil, Switzerland. Trucks of carbon dioxide had to be ordered over long distances in order to make fertilizers. Gebald and Wurzbacher realised there was potential in creating a facility that could directly absorb carbon dioxide from the air and supply it to the greenhouse via pipelines.

The two engineers proposed their idea to Gebrüder Meier Primanatura AG and also included a memorandum of understanding for purchase in case they were able to develop the facility. Over the course of a venture challenge course at the university, the duo developed a prototype and a business plan for the facility. Initially, the facility was able to absorb only a few millilitres of carbon dioxide each day. Today, the facility is able to absorb and capture 2,460 kilos of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each day. Depending on weather conditions and air composition, this translates to an industrial scale of 900 tonnes of carbon emissions removed annually. The facility is situated on top of a waste recycling plant which overlooks Gebrüder Meier Primanatura AG’s greenhouses half a kilometre away.

Being called the Hinwil DAC plant, it will operate as a three-year demonstration project in co-operation with the partners Gebrüder Meier and KEZO, a Swiss municipal waste disposal company with a contribution towards non-amortizable costs by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE).


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