World's largest direct air capture and CO2 storage plant goes online

Climeworks has announced that it has begun operations of its Orca direct air capture and CO2 storage plant, which is the largest of its type in the world. The facility is designed to remove carbon dioxide from the air permanently. Construction of Orca started in May 2020 and uses advanced modular technology with stackable collector units.

The stackable footprint allows the facility to capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the air we breathe while maintaining a small physical footprint. The design of the plant allowed it to be operational in under 15 months. In addition, Climeworks says that compared to past generations of technology, Orca has reduced the use of steel in the collector units by about 50 percent per output unit.

The modular design and build time makes Orca technology easy to replicate at locations around the world wherever storage conditions and renewable energy are available. The first Orca plant is located next to the ON Power HellisheiĆ°i Geothermal Power Plant, and it runs completely on renewable energy. The facility is the first plant of its type to bring industrial-scale direct air capture and carbon dioxide storage into the real world.

The latest technology used in the facility allows an increased carbon dioxide capture capacity for each module leading to an optimized process for capturing and storing more carbon dioxide than ever. Carbon dioxide captured by Orca is stored underground using a process by a partner company called Carbfix.

The process takes approximately two years for underground mineralization of the captured CO2 pumped deep underground using water. The natural mineralization process traps the CO2 in stone. The facility expects to remove about 4000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year, safely storing it underground.