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13 June, 2024
 
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Can a giant vacuum cleaner be the key to cleaner air?

Iceland welcomes the ''world's largest'' plant for capturing carbon pollution

Source: CNN

Iceland celebrated the inauguration of what's been hailed as the "world's largest" direct air capture (DAC) plant on Wednesday. Developed by Swiss company Climeworks, the colossal facility, named "Mammoth," marks a significant stride in combating planet-heating emissions.

This isn't Climeworks' first foray into DAC technology. The company previously launched the Orca plant in 2021, but Mammoth dwarfs its predecessor, boasting a size ten times larger. DAC technology operates by drawing in the air and removing carbon using specialized chemicals. The captured carbon can then be stored underground, repurposed, or transformed into solid products.

Mammoth aims to sequester carbon underground, collaborating with Icelandic company Carbfix for this purpose. Notably, the entire operation is powered by Iceland's abundant and clean geothermal energy.

The timing of Mammoth's launch underscores the growing interest in next-generation climate solutions amidst escalating carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. However, DAC technologies like Mammoth aren't without controversy. Critics have raised concerns about their costliness, energy requirements, and unproven scalability.

Climeworks' Mammoth plant, constructed over the course of 2022, stands as a modular marvel, designed with 72 "collector containers" capable of capturing carbon from the air. At full capacity, Mammoth is projected to remove a staggering 36,000 tons of carbon annually, equivalent to eliminating nearly 7,800 gas-powered cars' emissions for a year.

While Climeworks has not disclosed the exact cost per ton of carbon removed, the company aims to make the technology more affordable, with aspirations to reach $100 per ton by 2050.

Despite Mammoth's impressive scale, experts caution that it's merely a drop in the bucket compared to the global carbon reduction targets. Climeworks envisions expanding its carbon removal capacity to 1 million tons per year by 2030 and a staggering 1 billion tons by 2050, with potential DAC plants planned for Kenya and the United States.

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Cyprus  |  environment  |  Iceland

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