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World's largest plant capturing CO2 from air starts up in Iceland
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The plant, named Orca, will draw 4,000 tonnes of CO2 out of the air every year when operating at capacity, equivalent to the emissions from about 870 cars. /CFP

The plant, named Orca, will draw 4,000 tonnes of CO2 out of the air every year when operating at capacity, equivalent to the emissions from about 870 cars. /CFP

The world's largest plant designed to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air and turn it into rock started operation in Iceland on Wednesday, the companies behind the plant said.

The plant, named Orca, after the Icelandic word "orka" (energy), consists of four units, each made up of two metal boxes, similar in appearance to the containers used for maritime shipping.

Constructed by Switzerland's Climeworks and Iceland's Carbfix, when operating at capacity the plant will draw 4,000 tonnes of CO2 out of the air every year, according to the companies.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that equates to emissions from about 870 cars.

To collect CO2, the plant uses fans to draw air into a collector, which has a filter inside.

Once the filter is filled with CO2, the collector is closed and the temperature is raised to release and collect the highly concentrated gas.

The CO2 is then mixed with water before being injected at a depth of 1,000 metres into the nearby basalt rock where it is petrified.

Proponents of so-called carbon capture and storage believe this technology can become a major tool in the fight against climate change.

Critics however argue that the technology is still prohibitively expensive and might take decades to operate at scale.

Source(s): AFP

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