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Tech Giants Launches New CO2 Removal Initiative

Published Thu, Apr 14 2022 13:42 pm
by The Silicon Trend





Tech Giants Launches New CO2 Removal Initiative

Direct Air Capture Plant to Suck CO2 From Atmosphere

Natural Air Capture Plants have been a hot topic among tech giants, and world luminaries, notably Microsoft, are looking for ways to eradicate their legacy of greenhouse gas pollution. The plant is developed by a Swiss company - Climeworks, powered by renewable energy from nearby geothermal power plants.

The company had planned to lock the acquired CO2 away in basalt rock formations, 3kms from the plant. Instead, the company's new air capture plant, called Orca for the Icelandic word for energy, can draw 4K tons of CO2 annually. 


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How Does the Orca Work?

Orca uses a method called solid direct air capture to trap CO2. The plant is compact, with fans sucking in the atmospheric air. The air passes over a solid sorbent filter that traps CO2. Unfortunately, the company didn't explain how its filters work other than stating it uses a base to attract CO2. When the filter becomes fully saturated, the unit heats up the filter to over 100-degrees Celsius - releasing trapped CO2.

Once the carbon dioxide has been separated from atmospheric air, it goes through pipes to an adjacent building where it can be prepped for permanent storage. Here, it's mixed with over 27 tons of water for every ton of CO2. The slurry then travels about a quarter of a mile before being injected into the ground - where carbonated water reacts with basaltic rock, creating carbonate minerals. Finally, after 2 years, the carbonated water turns into solid rock.


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Stripe, Shopify, McKinsey, Meta, and Alphabet Introduce CO2 Eradicating Method

Top tech giants – Stripe, Shopify, McKinsey, Meta, and Alphabet have made a $925Mn commitment to buy captured carbon between 2022 and 2030 - marking a significant investment in carbon removal techs. Their new initiative - Frontier, may scale up the deployment of the emerging tech while making it more budget-oriented for other organizations looking to buy captured carbon.

Some facilities filter CO2 out of the air and make an effort to store them in the ocean or rock formations once captured. But the existing capacity to do this is nanoscopic in comparison, plus the tech is still expensive. Many experts that called for more carbon removal initiatives expressed that it's primarily meant to balance out the pollution that's hard to prevent. These emissions come from heavy industries such as steel and cement manufacturing that find it hard to convert to renewable energy.

Frontier is entirely owned by Stripe, while other tech giants are offering initial funds. The company initially committed to spending $1Mn a year to remove CO2 from the air in 2019.


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