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What it sounds like to remove carbon from the air

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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