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Instead of putting out greenhouse gases, this facility removes excess carbon dioxide from the air. The direct air capture plant recently opened in Switzerland by commercial company Climeworks was developed by two young engineers studying at ETH Zürich, as part of a venture challenge course.

The facility’s 18 CO2 collectors pull about 2.5 tonnes of carbon from the air every day using fans and filters soaked with amines, which are chemicals that bind with CO2. Climeworks then sells that CO2 to farmers and other industries. In order to ensure that the facility is completely climate-neutral, the heat needed to activate the carbon filters is drawn from a preexisting waste utilization plant directly beneath the DAC.

Previous designs for direct air capture plants were met with skepticism because CO2 occurs in relatively low concentrations, making it difficult to filter large amounts. However, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy seems to think that the DAC plant is a good way to contribute to the country’s goal of keeping to the Paris climate agreement – they’ve given some financial support to the project.

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