Zurich-based Direct Air Capture (DAC) company Climeworks announced the start-up of Mammoth, the largest direct air capture plant in the world to date, with anticipated capability to remove             up to 36,000 tons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere for permanent underground storage. The company described the milestone as part of its goal to achieve megaton (million ton) carbon removal capacity by 2030, and gigaton (billion ton) scale by 2050.

DAC technology, listed by the IEA as a key carbon removal option in the transition to a net-zero energy system, extracts CO2 directly from the atmosphere for use as a raw material or permanent removal when combined with storage. According to the landmark 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate change mitigation study, scenarios that limit warming to 1.5°C include carbon dioxide removal methods scaling to billions of tons of removal annually over the coming decades, with DAC positioned to potentially account for a significant portion of the total.

Founded in 2009 by Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, Climeworks has focused to date on building its position as a leading DAC provider. The company first announced the construction of Mammoth in 2022, launching an order of magnitude larger than its 4,000 ton/year DAC facility, Orca.

Mammoth and Orca are both based in Iceland, and feature collaborations with Icelandic companies, including Carbfix, which provides permanent underground CO2 storage, and ON Power, which supplies renewable energy to Mammoth from its Hellisheiði geothermal electricity plant to power the entire direct air capture and storage process.

The new plant has nameplate capture capacity of up to 36,000 tons of CO2 per year. The plant has successfully started to capture its first CO2 with twelve of its total 72 collector containers installed onsite.

Though Mammoth is the largest to date, there are several projects ongoing that aim to establish substantially larger DAC plants, including several that include the participation of Climeworks. The company is participating in the development of three megaton hubs in the U.S. that were selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for public funding of more than $600 million, including the Louisiana-based Project Cypress, which has recently been granted an initial $50 million to kickstart the project.

Climeworks added that its operational and testing learnings to date will be applied to its upcoming DAC projects.

Jan Wurzbacher, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Climeworks said:

“Starting operations of our Mammoth plant is another proof point in Climeworks’ scale-up journey to megaton capacity by 2030 and gigaton by 2050. It is exemplary of our continuous R&D investments to further optimize our technology and gain maturity through on-the-ground experience. Constructing multiple real-world plants in rapid sequences makes Climeworks the most deployed carbon removal company with direct air capture at the core.”