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Worlds Largest Carbon Capture Storage Facility Begins Operation In Iceland

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The world’s largest carbon capture storage (CCS) facility is now functional in Iceland.

The startup which launched the facility is called Climeworks AG. It said the plant began operations last Wednesday, not too far from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.

The $15 million Orca plant is the size of two shipping containers and sucks CO2 out of the air to be pumped deep underground and mineralized for long-term storage. The first industrial-scale carbon capture and storage plant, Orca cost more than $10 million and can capture 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. This amounts to the equivalent of 250 US citizens, at a cost of around $1200 per ton of CO2 removed. While this cost and capacity are still far less than the world needs, Climeworks says these figures will be improved, making carbon capture affordable and useful within a few years.

Orca is the first-of-its-kind plant that translates the vision of industrial-scale direct air capture and storage into reality. This improved technology generation comes in an award-winning new design, which embodies the interconnection between nature and technology. For the technology generation which Orca represents, Climeworks has been able to intensify the process leading to increased CO2 capture capacity per module. This optimized process means that more carbon dioxide can be captured and stored than ever before.

Orca was built in 15 months, beginning in May 2020, and Climeworks says it is a "stepping stone" to bigger things, promising to reproduce it elsewhere, and on larger scales that will bring down the cost. The company plans to build a plant ten times as large in three years, leading to "megaton removal capacity by the second part of this decade."