On a High Note: When Life Gives You CO2, Make It Into Stone
How do you make something useful out of something dangerous? Newly up and running Orca -- a joint venture by Switzerland's Climeworks and Iceland's Carbfix -- is "the world's first and largest climate-positive direct air capture and storage plant." That means it's designed to collect air and filter out CO2 -- which is turned to concentrate, mixed with water, and injected into nearby basalt rock to be mineralized 1,000 meters deep and stored as stone. The plant uses geothermal energy for the collection process. Once operating at capacity, the plant will draw 4,000 tons of CO2. According to the EPA, this is equal to the emissions from about 870 cars.
If successful, Orca will be a big win for carbon capture proponents who see carbon capture technology as an additional component to decarbonization. While the main goal for the next two or three decades should be to reach net-zero carbon emissions by shifting to renewable and nuclear sources of energy, among other measures -- carbon capture could play a crucial role in bringing us past net zero into negative emissions.
Climeworks: Introducing Orca - the world's first largest direct air capture and storage plant, September 20, 2021.
Climeworks: Dr. Christoph Gebald at Climeworks' Direct Air Capture Summit 2021, December 20, 2021.