Monday, May 20, 2013

Climeworks’ direct air capture system produces pure CO2 stream from the air using energy from low temperature heat

The Swiss Direct Air Capture company Climeworks AG have announced some encouraging results from their latest demonstrator plant. The portable system which houses an example of Climeworks’ technology, has shown that its process, driven by heat energy of less than 100°C can produce a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide with a purity of more than 99.3%. The remaining 0.7% simply being air.

“This is a great breakthrough” said Climeworks’ co-CEO Christoph Gebald, “our analyses showed that removing COfrom the air with a process driven by heat is possible, and it’s great to see results that confirm that”. Jan Wurzbacher, co-founder and co-CEO of Climeworks added: “Our long term vision, as well as removing CO2 from the air, is delivering CO2 for the production of synthetic fuels (synfuels) from renewable energy sources and water. This would enable the efficient storage of renewable energies and a carbon-neutral fuel supply for the transportation sector. We’re working hard to translate these encouraging results into designs for full scale commercial systems, and to show that Direct Air Capture technologies such as ours can be used as a negative-emissions technology, and also to provide efficient ways of creating low carbon, sustainable and renewable hydrocarbons in the future”.

Removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere: Climeworks co-CEOs Christoph Gebald (left) and Jan Wuzbacher (right) in front of their Direct Air Capture pilot system. Photo: Tomas Dikk.

“Direct Air Capture solutions have the potential to be a valuable cleantech systems in an array of sectors. Our interest is in the potential for them to one day be a scalable and sustainable way of taking carbon out of the air and keeping it out. Ways of removing greenhouse gases, from the responsible management of terrestrial ecosystems, through to these industrial processes, vary greatly in their nature, they are never an excuse for business as usual, they can and must work alongside deep mitigation efforts, and more work and data are needed to understand the potential each approach has. But groups around the world like Climeworks and our other finalists are doing the hard work to provide that data; and the initial results are very encouraging” said David Addison, manager of the Virgin Earth Challenge.

removing COfrom the air with processes driven by heat is possible


Founded in 2009, Climeworks is a company spun out of ETH Zurich. Since then they have received over EUR1.1m in grant funding, raised EUR 1.9m of Series A financing in 2011, have won several renowned business competitions and now have 8 full time employees.

Climeworks’ technology focusses around a novel, renewable sorbent material, and was designed from the beginning as an adsorption process to capture CO2 from the air. As well as showing the purity of CO2 that can be achieved, the energy required by the process can be sourced as heat, at temperatures lower than 100°C, this would open up Direct Air Capture systems to a range of processes that have waste heat, such as solar power systems, or fuel synthesis processes.

To learn more about Climeworks, visit their page and their website. And for more information on Direct Air Capture, see the VEC approaches and links pages.