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What it sounds like to remove carbon from the air

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May 23, 2024

What does the world's largest direct air capture plant sound like? Axios has an answer.

State of play: Direct air capture developer Climeworks this month opened its Mammoth plant in Iceland.

Zoom in: There are plenty of photos of the site. We asked Climeworks to capture what it sounds like.

  • The hum you're hearing in the file above is water flowing to generate steam, in turn powering the plant.

Context: Climeworks aspires to capture 36,000 metric tons of CO2 each year from the ambient air.

  • The startup's first plant, Orca, had a capacity of 4,000 tons per year.

Reality check: Climeworks will need to prove not only that its technology works at such a large scale, but that it can remove carbon at reasonable cost.

  • Climeworks says it's targeting $400-600 per ton by 2030, and $200-350 per ton by 2040, per Reuters.

Meanwhile, even a plant as big as Mammoth is a drop in the bucket. The world will need to develop 80 million metric tons of annual carbon removal capacity by 2030 — and more than a billion metric tons by 2050.

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