How Does Carbon Capture Work? - EV Motors

How Does Carbon Capture Work?

Carbon capture and storage is an emerging technology for reducing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If carbon capture and storage can prove effective and scalable at a large scale, it could be a major player in minimizing the effects of climate change.


Climeworks is a booming startup working to scale a breakthrough in CCS technology, called direct air capture. Continue reading to learn more about carbon capture and storage. It’s exciting what Climeworks and other companies are doing to mitigate global warming.

What Is Carbon Capture And Storage?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is carbon emissions’ mitigation option. There is a recent push to research and invest in CCS solutions. More specifically, CCS describes the process of capturing carbon dioxide followed by long-term storage.

Carbon capture technology

Carbon capture technologies have the potential to capture 90% or more of the CO2 emissions. This can be highly effective if captured at point sources, like power plants. At this time, over 26 carbon capture projects are in operation, with 30 more in the pipeline. The industrial sector has proved the most difficult to mitigate emissions through traditional means. Carbon capture may be the only way to practically reduce emissions from these facilities.

How Is CO2 Stored?

CO2 can be repurposed or can be stored. Once CO2 has been captured, it will be compressed. Usually, captured CO2 has to be transported before long-term storage is possible. It will be transported using pipeline, ships, or rail to the point of storage.

Scheme representing the carbon capture and storage system

Captured CO2 can be stored in a few different ways. The most popular method is injecting the CO2 into geological formations. The idea is that the carbon dioxide is safe deep underground and won’t have access to poison the atmosphere. Interestingly, depleted oil and gas reserves are great for storing CO2 .

Is CO2 Storage Safe?

CCS has been imagined for years, but is finally taking off. Now, some people are concerned about the safety of long-term CO2 storage. Humans have discovered CO2 pockets underground that have existed without issues for millions of years. There is no evidence that CO2 storage poses any risk to humans.

CO2 emissions

Carbon stores, such as gas and oil, have been stored in these porous formations, for millions of years. Why shouldn’t these formations be repurposed to aid with climate change?

Direct Air Capture

Direct Air Capture is a new suite of technologies that can extract CO2 directly from the atmosphere. Think of this as a giant CO2 scrubber.

Direct Air Capture (DAC) plants are usually placed in proximity to a deep geological formation. Having formations suitable for long-term carbon storage nearby, reduces costs. For example, the most recent plant opened up in Iceland. 4 kilotons of CO2 can be captured a year and stored in the local basalt formations.

Massive technology for direct air capture

Direct Air Capture is especially promising to address the impact of sectors like aviation and industrial facilities. These sectors that have limited avenues for decarbonization. The key to successful adoption of DAC technology is reducing costs. DAC is currently very expensive and energy intensive. It’s important that any plants are constructed where renewable power sources are plentiful. Experts expect the DAC industry to dramatically scale-up in the next few years, if costs can be managed.

Graph showing how much CO2 can be captured using Direct Air Capture
CO2 capture by direct air capture in the Net Zero Scenario, 2020-2030 (source:

Climeworks is a Swiss startup that is leading the charge with DAC technology. They currently have 15 facilities working to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

The goal of Climeworks is to commercialize CCS technology. Climeworks can sell the CO2 . The food and beverage industries are major purchasers. Or the CO2 can be stored. In 2022, Climeworks raised 600 million francs. Climeworks hopes to scale their CO2 capture to over a million tons a year.

Preventing Global Warming

With current projections, CCS technology may reduce carbon emissions by 14% by 2050. This is a massive undertaking, but results in a massive impact to prevent global warming.

Earth melting from heat

The most effective way to prevent global warming, is reducing emissions. But modern society requires certain industries to continue operating. If these vital industries can’t properly decarbonize, then having an effective method of emission mitigation is a powerful too.

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