Energy transition

Is CO2 Removal Technology Key to a Sustainable Future?

The innovations in the carbon removal space are gaining attention for their potential to curb global climate change, but they each face particular challenges in implementation.

Man with magnifying glass observing CO2 flow
Source: Getty Images

The urgent need to address climate change has unleashed a wave of innovative ideas on how to mitigate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are driving the problem. Among the approaches considered to hold great promise is carbon dioxide removal, or what some call negative emissions technologies.

These strategies have attracted significant attention in recent years and involve removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and storing it in long-term sinks such as oceans, forests, and underground geological formations.

What follows is a closer look at how these strategies work, their potential to address the global climate crisis, and the challenges they currently face.

Direct Air Capture (DAC)

This technology captures CO2 directly from the air using chemical reactions and/or physical processes. The captured CO2 can then be stored in a long-term sink, used for food processing and cement manufacturing, or combined with hydrogen to create synthetic fuel. There are currently about 20 direct air capture plants operating worldwide.

Climeworks’ Orca plant in Iceland, the largest operating DAC plant in the world, has the capacity to remove 4,000 tons of CO2 per year and store it deep underground.

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