With carbon emissions at an all-time high, three startups have been working on technologies which can directly suck carbon-dioxide out of the air and take it underground, or use it in carbonated beverages, synthetic fuels, concrete, or even plastic.
Climeworks, Global Thermostat, and Carbon Engineering have all been working on different forms and methods of capturing carbon directly from the air. The Swiss company Climeworks recently became the first to open the world’s first commercial plant in Hinwil, near Zurich, as shown in the video above.
The plan uses Direct Air Capture (DAC) process (below) to capture carbon-dioxide and sends it to a greenhouse that grows fruits and vegetables to boost crop growth. Currently, the process is expensive and only mildly effective at best, as it can capture just 900 metric tons of carbon per year. That translates to a minuscule percentage of the actual 10-gigatonne reduction in emissions required to affect the rate of global warming.
“The vision of our company is to capture (one) percent of global emissions (annually) by 2025, which is super ambitious, but which is something that is feasible,” said co-founder Christoph Gebald, who plans to build 2,50,000 more of such plants.
Some scientists and environmentalists are sceptical of the impact of such technology, however, as they fear that industrialists and politicians may see it as a green light to freely continue rampant emission of carbon, relying on carbon capture to battle the damage done. However, the startups themselves stress that reducing carbon emissions and putting a price on carbon is the only sure-shot way to battle rising temperatures.