World's biggest plant for sucking carbon dioxide from the air starts operating in Iceland

·1-min read

The world's largest plant for sucking carbon dioxide from the air and storing it underground has starting operating in Iceland.

It is expected to deal with up to 4,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to the annual emissions from about 790 cars.

Global emissions last year were 31.5 billion tonnes, according to the International Energy Agency.

Direct air capture is seen by scientists as vital to efforts to limit global warming.

Iceland's Orca plant - a reference to the Icelandic word for energy - is made up of eight large containers that use filters and fans to extract carbon dioxide.

The CO2 is then mixed with water and pumped underground, where it slowly turns into rock.

The system is powered renewably by a nearby geothermal plant.

Direct air capture is still a new and expensive technology, but it's hoped the price will fall as it becomes more widespread.

There are currently 15 plants globally, capturing more than 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, according to the IEA.

Occidental, a US oil firm, is developing the largest facility, designed to pull one million tonnes per year from the air near its Texas oilfields.

Iceland's plant is a partnership between Swiss start-up Climeworks AG and Icelandic company Carbfix.

Climeworks also offers a subscription allowing consumers to pay monthly for carbon removal.

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