Climeworks switches on the world’s largest direct air capture plant

Image: ClimeWorks

The Swiss environmental services business has switched on the world’s largest direct air capture and storage facility in Iceland.

The new plant – Mammoth – is the second commercial facility launched by Climeworks in Iceland and is about 10 times bigger than its predecessor – Orca.

Mammoth will bring new high-quality carbon removal capacity to the market for Climeworks to provide to its customers.

The plant is built in a modular design, with twelve of its total 72 collector containers currently installed onsite.

It first broke ground in June 2022, and will be completed throughout 2024. It is designed for a nameplate capture capacity of up to 36,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Mammoth has now successfully started to capture its first CO2.

Climeworks uses renewable energy to power its direct air capture process, which requires low-temperature heat like boiling water.

Geothermal energy partner ON Power in Iceland provides the energy necessary for this process.

Once the CO2 is released from the filters, storage partner Carbfix transports it underground, where it reacts with basaltic rock through a natural process which transforms it into stone and remains permanently stored.

Climeworks verifies and certifies the whole process by independent third parties.

Commenting on the latest milestone, Climeworks co-founder and co-chief executive Jan Wurzbacher said: “Starting operations of our Mammoth plant is another proof point in Climeworks’ scale-up journey to megaton capacity by 2030 and gigaton by 2050.

“It is exemplary of our continuous R&D investments to further optimise our technology and gain maturity through on-the-ground experience.

“Constructing multiple real-world plants in rapid sequences makes Climeworks the most deployed carbon removal company with direct air capture at the core.”

Climeworks engineers process close to 200 million data points daily.

The derived learnings were applied to Mammoth which increases plant performance, efficiency, recovery and ensure better availability to maximise CO2 capture through the year.

With Mammoth, Climeworks will gain further operational field experience, and its 180 science and R&D experts will continue large-scale testing and development.

The operational and testing learnings will be deployed in the next direct air capture projects.

Until 2030, Climeworks’ roadmap focuses on megaton hub roll-out.

The business is part of three megaton-scale direct air capture hub proposals in the US, all of which were selected by the US Department of Energy for public funding for a total of more than $600m.

The largest one, Project Cypress in Louisiana, was granted an initial $50m in March to kickstart the project.

Climeworks will replicate its megaton hubs worldwide to reach a global scale.The company actively develops projects in Norway, Kenya, and Canada and explores further potential direct air capture and storage sites.

Carbon removals for heavy industry

In related news, a new carbon capture trial has been launched at Heidelberg Materials’ Ketton cement works in Rutland.

It is part of C-Capture’s national XLR8 CCS project, which aims to demonstrate that its low-cost carbon capture solution can be used in hard-to-abate industries such as cement and glass manufacturing.

C-Capture’s next-generation carbon capture technology uses a solvent to selectively capture CO2, which can then be compressed and sent for storage in safe, geological reserves or used in other areas such as the fertiliser and oil and gas industries.

The company’s process requires 40% less energy than other carbon capture technologies, reducing costs.

A carbon capture solvent compatibility unit has been installed at Ketton cement works to test the ability of C-Capture’s technology to remove CO2 from the flue gas emissions produced during cement manufacture.

The Ketton project trial is one of six that will be delivered across three hard-to-abate industries – cement, glass and energy from waste – with funding through the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s (DESNZ) Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.

Heidelberg Materials UK’s chief executive Simon Willis said: “Carbon capture is a critical part of our strategy to decarbonise cement production and essential if we are to reach net-zero and help our customers achieve their own decarbonisation goals.

“Our venture with C-Capture is another example of our commitment to developing new technologies and, if successful, has the potential to be rolled-out at other sites across the Heidelberg Materials Group.”

XLR8 CCS is funded with £1.7m from the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.

The funding is part of the £20n Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) Innovation 2.0 programme aimed at accelerating the deployment of next-generation CCUS technology in the UK.

Additional private sector contributions support a £2.7m total for this multi-industry project.

Comments (3)

  1. John Squire says:

    Excellent article

  2. Rob Heap says:

    @ EDIE Staff,
    How bizarre that one of the destinations for the C-Capture CO2 is for use in the oil and gas industry. What is the ultimate fate of that CO2?

  3. Richard Phillips says:

    The use of carbon to CO2 as an energy source may decline if enough alternatives are made available, but it is SO convenient!
    Hydrogen is awkward to handle at the public level.
    But don’t despair, someone will have a bright idea, they always seem to turn up!!!!!

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