ETH Forecasts Higher Costs for CO2 Capture than Hoped

Zurich – According to calculations by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), capturing CO2 from the air in 2050 will cost around twice as much as hoped. Using their new method, they compared three technologies, including Climeworks.

The cost of capturing CO2 from the atmosphere (direct air capture, DAC) will probably not fall as much by 2050 as some players predict. This is the result of calculations carried out by three ETH researchers: Bjarne Steffen, Professor of Climate Finance at the Energy and Technology Policy Group, Katrin Sievert, a doctoral student from his research group, and Prof. Tobias Schmidt, Head of the Institute of Science, Technology and Policy. They have now published their innovative calculation method in the specialist journal "Joule".

According to a report from their university, they compared the expected economies of scale for three technologies that are already in use today, including that of the ETH spin-off Climeworks. Climeworks operates a plant in Iceland that binds CO2 using solid filter material with a large surface area. It extracts 4000 tons of CO2 per year, at a price of between 1000 and 1300 dollars per ton. The research team sees a future price range of between 230 and 540 dollars per ton.

For the capture of CO2 as an aqueous solution with potassium hydroxide, as commercialized by the Canadian company Carbon Engineering, for example, the researchers quote a similar range of 230 to 540 dollars. And for separation with potassium oxide, as offered by the North American company Heirloom Carbon Technologies, they charge between 230 and 835 dollars.

"The availability of DAC technologies should in no way reduce our efforts to avoid CO2 emissions," summarizes Bjarne Steffen. And because it is not foreseeable which of the technologies will prevail, it is "crucial to continue pursuing all options", according to lead author Katrin Sievert. ce/mm

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