What is direct air capture?

Our direct air capture (DAC) technology is one of the key technological solutions to fight climate change. It captures CO₂ directly from the air, reducing the atmospheric concentration of CO₂ by only using renewable energy, energy-from-waste, or other waste heat as energy sources.

How does it work?

It's a three-step process

  1. Air is drawn in through a fan located inside the collector. Once sucked in, it passes through a filter located inside the collector which traps the carbon dioxide particles.
  2. When the filter is completely full of CO₂, the collector closes, and the temperature rises to about 100°C — about the same temperature it takes to boil water for a cup of tea!
  3. This causes the filter to release the CO₂ so we can finally collect it.

    The CO₂ can then be safely and permanently stored underground by our storage partners — Carbfix in Iceland.

Why do we need direct air capture?

The latest IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report clearly states that urgent climate action is needed to halve emissions by 2030. To do so, we must both drastically reduce emissions and remove legacy CO₂ emissions from the air. In order to permanently remove the CO₂ emissions we've captured, we combine our DAC technology with CO₂ storage and safely transport them deep underground.

Direct air capture and storage, or DAC+S, represents a permanent carbon removal solution.

The benefits of direct air capture

Each solution, whether natural or technology-based, has its benefits. That's why it's essential that every approach works in synergy with all others if climate targets are to be achieved. Here are the benefits of direct air capture:

  • Location-independent: CO₂ is in the air at the same concentration everywhere in the world. This means that DAC plants can be located anywhere as they do not need to be attached to an emissions source. They are only required to be placed near a renewable energy source and in a place where CO₂ can be stored.
  • Highly scalable and measurable: Our plants are based on a modular technology design, making them highly scalable. We can also measure exactly how much CO₂ our machines capture.
  • Efficient land usage: Our plants require less land than other techniques. E.g., on a land area of 0.42 acres, our Orca plant can remove 4,000 tons of CO₂ from the air every year, which is almost 1,000 times more effective than trees. The same land would host around 220 trees with an estimated capacity of 22kg each (source), i.e., only 4.62 tons of CO₂ per year

One of our modular CO₂ collector containers has a nominal capacity of 500 tons per year. You’d need about 20,000 trees to match this amount.

Do you still have open questions? Learn more about:

The energy usage: We're committed to driving down energy consumption as much as possible. We only use renewable energy, energy-from-waste, or other waste heat to power our plants.

The difference with offsetting: Traditional carbon offsets are typically a trade of avoided emissions through certified emission reduction projects that absorb or avoid CO₂. It can lead to reduced emissions, but not to the zero and negative emissions that we need to deliver to keep global warming under control. In contrast, our carbon dioxide removal service physically removes CO₂ emissions from the air, locking the CO₂ away by permanently storing it for thousands of years. It's therefore radically different from trading avoided emissions. 

The plants' carbon footprint: We have already conducted multiple life-cycle assessments (LCA, see here) to assess the footprint of building, operating, and recycling our DAC plants. They confirm the grey emissions of a Climeworks plant are less than 10% of the captured carbon dioxide with the use of renewable electricity, our goal is to reduce them to 4%.

Let's remove CO₂ together

Learn more about our carbon removal service for individuals and companies.