Among the solutions considered by some to limit global warming, there is the capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2). And indeed, the largest factory of its kind was commissioned yesterday, near Iceland.

[VIDEO] COP25: the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over 15 years Thanks to data collected on Earth and from space, NASA has compiled the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide and its worldwide distribution for fifteen years. At the end of the measurements in 2015, the maximum reached 402 ppm; today we are at 418 ppm.

Is history being written on the Icelandic side? This Wednesday, September 8, 2021, the largest plant in the world for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and then for its underground storage was commissioned. The Swiss start-up Climeworks AG and the Icelandic company Carbfix – who are at the origin of it – announce an extraction capacity of 4,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. This is a lot, when we know that the fifteen other factories of this type currently in operation capture a total of some 9,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. But that remains little in view of the global CO2 emissions estimated at more than 30 billion tonnes in 2020. However, some believe the effort necessary to limit anthropogenic global warming.

The Orca plant – in reference to the Icelandic meaning energy – therefore sucks CO2 directly from our atmosphere. At the heart of eight large containers. With large reinforcements of fans which suck the air in a collector equipped with filters. Once the collector is saturated, the temperature is increased to release and isolate a very concentrated CO2. It is then mixed with water and then injected into the subsoil, some 1,000 meters deep. It will eventually turn into a rock.

4,000 tonnes of CO2, that’s only the equivalent of the emissions of around 800 cars … © Nady, Adobe Stock

Rest assured, the system is supplied with renewable energy by a geothermal power plant located nearby. But it is not only energy intensive. It is also expensive. A defect that the designers hope to reduce with its large-scale industrialization. More and more companies and even individuals seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Another project of the same type, by the way. That of the American oil company Occidental. It is developing a large direct CO2 capture installation intended this time to extract one million tonnes of greenhouse gas from our atmosphere per year. All in the Texas oilfields region.

Large-format CO2 capture and geological storage in Canada