With the aim of capturing 1% of global CO2 emissions by 2025, the Zurich-based Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) spin-off company Climeworks launched a carbon dioxide sucking plant for commercial use, called Direct Air Capture (DAC). Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher engineered the technology to capture atmospheric carbon with a filter, using mainly low-grade heat as an energy source. The DAC plant has been installed on the roof of a waste recovery facility operated by the Hinwil municipal administration.

Zurich

Julia Dunlop.

The process works as follows: carbon dioxide is chemically deposited on the filter surface. Once the filter is saturated, carbon dioxide is isolated at a temperature of about 100°C (212°F). The pure carbon dioxide gas captured can then be sold to customers in key markets which include commercial agriculture, food and beverage industries, the energy sector and the automotive industry.

In Hinwil, Climeworks provides a continuous supply of carbon dioxide through an underground pipeline to a greenhouse 400 meters (437.4 yards) away, operated by Gebrüder Meier Primanatura AG, to yield the produce and help with growing vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers. DAC is now supplying the nearby greenhouse with 900 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Climeworks is calling their plant a “historic step for negative emissions technology;” which goes inline with the Paris climate agreement to limit global temperature rises to 2°C (35.6°F).

Zurich

Julia Dunlop.

Zurich’s estimated carbon dioxide emissions per person is a comparatively low, 3.7 ton (sixth-lowest of all cities in Europe), compared with a 30-city average of 5 tonnes. The city’s policy action on carbon dioxide emissions reduction is relatively limited, as this aim is pursued at a national level. Carbon emissions’ reduction in Switzerland dates back to 1990 when the federal government agreed to reduce emissions by up to 10% by 2010, as part of its Kyoto protocol commitments. Siemens observes that Zurich’s performance on carbon emissions is primarily attributable to the low incidence of heavy industry and limited reliance on carbon fossil fuels for electricity production, rather than to policy measures.

Even though Climeworks is calling their plant a pioneer, one year ago in The UAE, the Middle East and North Africa’s first commercial-scale carbon capture, utilization and storage facility was unveiled on the outskirts of the capital. The facility was expected to clean up to 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, cleaning up emissions produced by Emirates Steel Industries, which produces clear carbon dioxide with 98% concentration. The process involves collecting the gas from facilities that use fossil fuels and storing it to limit the emissions produced by heavy industries. The facility was engineered by Carbon Capture Company Al Reyadah, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Masdar – the clean technology and renewable energy arm of Abu Dhabi’s Government.

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