En este momento estás viendo Iceland hosts first system to capture CO2 from the air

Iceland hosts first system to capture CO2 from the air

In the heart of Iceland, an island of solidified volcanic lava, lies a project that could help combat climate change. Climeworks, a Swiss company, has developed the world’s first system to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and trap it underground.

The plant, called Orca, is located in Hellisheiði, just outside Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. At first glance, it looks like several large air conditioners surrounding a building, but they are actually fans arranged in layers that take in ambient air and capture CO2 through filters.

The technology is part of a simple but effective process that could be an important tool in the fight against climate change. However, Climeworks representative Bryndis Nielsen stresses that CO2 removal from the air is not intended to replace emission reduction measures, but is an additional tool to help clean up the environmental mess.

The Orca plant can absorb 4 000 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to the emissions of 900 petrol cars. While this may sound like an impressive achievement, global emissions reached 37.4 gigatonnes in 2023. To reach the goal of global net zero emissions, solutions like Climeworks are needed.

The company’s next project, called Mammoth, will be almost ten times larger than Orca and is expected to extract 36,000 tonnes of CO2 from the environment per year.

One of the CarbFix domes at the Mammoth site. Photo: CarbFix

Iceland was chosen as a location because of the intense volcanic activity on the island, which provides an ideal environment for CO2 capture. The company CarbFix, which injects the CO2 into the ground, hopes that large CO2 emitting industries will contract its services to deposit their emissions in Iceland.

Iceland’s volcanic activity is a key component of the Climeworks project. Photo: Getty Images

However, there are also risks associated with this technology, such as countries with higher emissions using Iceland as their emissions dumping ground rather than reducing their emissions.

Fighting climate change is a global challenge and requires international collaboration. Climeworks technology is an important step towards mitigating the effects of climate change, but it is only part of what can be done. Eliminating emissions will not be enough to combat the worst effects of climate change, according to researcher Áróra Árnadóttir of the University of Iceland.

The new Mammoth plant is expected to be one more step towards the great challenge of being able to remove hundreds of thousands and billions of tonnes of gases from the environment.

(With information from BBC World)

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