Climeworks: Filtering CO2 from the atmosphere and reusing it


To achieve the 2-degree target, global carbon dioxide emissions must be drastically reduced or reduced to zero by mid-century. To bring this about, Climeworks has built the world’s first plant that filters CO2 directly from the atmosphere. This allows the CO2 to be fossilized or sold and reused for various purposes.

Business Sustainability Today - Climeworks

Climeworks’ technology is among the few scalable solutions to remove CO2 directly from the air. Valentin Gutknecht, Marketing Manager at Climeworks, explains the vision of the ETH spin-off in the video.

About Climeworks

Which social challenges are addressed?

New, innovative solutions are needed to reduce the proportion of greenhouse gases caused by human activity and thus curb the advance of global warming. One way is to close the carbon cycle by capturing the greenhouse gas from the air and storing it safely or reusing it.

What is the vision ?

With Vision 1/25, Climeworks aims to capture 1% of global CO2 emissions by 2025.

Which solution approach has the company chosen?

Climeworks has developed a new technology that aims to make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 in the air. This extracts atmospheric carbon dioxide from the air using filter systems: the filters suck in the air and bind the CO2 it contains through a chemical process.

Once the filters are saturated with CO2, it is dissolved at a temperature of about 100 degrees Celsius. This releases high-purity CO2. This can be used, for example, in greenhouses to increase plant growth. The filters can then be reused for other circuits.

Another, complementary solution, is filtering CO2 from concentrated sources. Other suppliers have developed technologies that directly capture exhaust gas from power plants, for example. Climeworks is convinced that such alternative solutions are a good approach, but not sufficient to achieve the global climate goals. They believe that not only newly released CO2, but also CO2 that is already in the air must be captured.

What is the business model of Climeworks?

The filtered CO2 can be sold and reused, for example, in production processes that require CO2. In addition to greenhouses, this includes the production of carbonated beverages and synthetic fuels. In addition, the filtered CO2 can be used to fabricate plastic products that are traditionally produced with fossil fuels. Finally, Climeworks is working to safely and permanently store large quantities of filtered CO2 in the ground. The company built the first plant for this purpose in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2017. For permanent storage on a large scale, financing models such as government or private sector support, CO2 taxes, or CO2 offset trading would most likely have to be used.

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