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May 10, 2024

The ‘world’s largest’ vacuum to suck climate pollution out of the air just opened. Here’s how it works

The world’s largest vacuum to suck climate pollution out of the air, launched in Iceland by Swiss start-up Climeworks, is essentially a large-scale Direct Air Capture (DAC) machine. Also known as 'Orca', it is designed to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere. Here's how it works: 1. Air Intake: The machine draws in ambient air through fans. As the air passes through the vacuum, it comes into contact with filters equipped with a substance that naturally binds with CO2. 2. CO2 Capture: The CO2 in the air binds to the substance on the filter. Once the filter is fully saturated, it is heated to around 100 degrees Celsius. This heat releases the CO2 in a pure form that can be captured and stored, while the filter can be reused . 3. CO2 Storage: The captured CO2 gets mixed with water and pumped deep underground into basalt rocks where it mineralizes and becomes a permanent part of the rock. This process takes about two years. 4. Continuous Cycle: The vacuum continues to shuffle between air intake and CO2 removal, and the process can run continuously as long as there is a power supply. DAC technology is still in its early stages and is currently quite costly. Yet, proponents believe it could be an important tool in the fight against climate change, as it not only reduces emissions but also removes existing CO2 from the atmosphere.