New facility captures 4000 tonnes of CO2 from the air

09 September 2021 | Muriel Cozier

Orca allows anyone to join an innovative community of 3000 pioneers from 54 countries around the world.

Orca, said to be the world’s largest direct air carbon capture and storage facility has become operational. The facility is owned by Climeworks, a business established during 2009 as a spinout of ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Located close to the ON Power Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant in Iceland, Orca is able to remove more than 4000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. The energy required to run the plant is provided by ON Power. In addition Carbfix, also located in Iceland, has provided the technology for mixing the captured carbon dioxide with water and pumping it underground where it is trapped in stone through a natural mineralisation process that takes less than two years.

The facility’s construction, which began in May 2020, is based on advanced modular technology in the form of innovative stackable container-sized collector units. These units are said to be more compact than previous versions reducing both the material used for their construction and the overall footprint of the unit. Climeworks said that Orca supports its expansion as the technology can easily be replicated in different locations worldwide and on even larger scales. Climeworks added that its facility delivers verifiable, metered carbon dioxide removal with a validated process, awarded by independent third party DNV.

Orca operates on what Climeworks describes as a ‘unique subscription-based programme’ allowing anyone to join the ‘innovative community of 3000 pioneers from 54 countries around the world.’ The facility will be used to permanently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on behalf of corporations, institutions, as well as individuals.

According to a 2020 Direct Air Capture report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), there were 15 direct air capture plants operating worldwide capturing more than 9000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The IEA report adds that a Carbon Engineering and Occidental Petroleum partnership is developing a direct air capture facility with a capacity of 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which is slated to become operational in 2023.

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