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How This CO2 ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ Is Fighting Climate Change

How This CO2 ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ Is Fighting Climate Change

A Swiss company is using technology to remove carbon dioxide from the air, and recycling the CO2 for use as fertilizer or airplane fuel

While much of the world took a pause in 2020, climate change did not. And as countries figure out how to reach the goals set in the Paris Agreement, it’s clear that dramatic action—and outside-the-box solutions—are needed to cut emissions. Swiss company Climeworks is working to provide some of those to help reverse climate change with its direct-air-capture technology. During the process, carbon dioxide is removed from the air through modular CO2 collectors and either recycled—say, for carbonation in drinks or for use as fertilizer or airplane fuel—or stored. According to Christoph Beuttler, CDR manager at Climeworks, direct air capture is necessary to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “In order to stay within the 1.5 degree goal we have about eight to 10 years left of current emissions, and we will not make that,” he says. “So, globally, we will have to remove CO2 from the atmosphere permanently.”

Direct air capture is also needed to truly get to net zero. “It is not possible to get to net zero emissions; there will always be residual emission,” says Beuttler. “For example, cement is one of the biggest polluters and is very unlikely to to go away completely.” The process will also help replace fossilized CO2 in things such as fuels with atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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