Climeworks’ Next Scale-Up Plant Mammoth Is Now Switched On

Climeworks' Next Scale-Up Plant Mammoth Is Now Switched On - Carbon Herald
Christoph and Jan at Climeworks’ Mammoth plant. Credit: Climeworks

Climeworks – the leader in direct air capture and permanent storage deployment, just announced that its second and largest direct air capture and storage plant – Mammoth starts operations in Iceland. 

Mammoth, first announced in 2022, is Climeworks’ 10x scale-up step, with a capacity to capture and permanently sequester around 36,000 tons of CO2 annually. Currently, it is the largest operational direct air capture and storage plant in the world. The company has managed to put in place the infrastructure of the plant within 18 months after the construction started, including that of storage partner Carbfix.

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The plant is built in a modular design, with just 12 (equivalent of 6000 tons of CO2 removal annually) of its total 72 collector containers currently installed onsite and operational. The plant will be completed throughout 2024. Mammoth is a critical step towards Climeworks’ gigaton-scale carbon removal excellence. It aims to help the company develop further its supply chain and deliver high-quality carbon removals to the market. 

The facility will be powered through geothermal renewable energy from energy partner ON Power. Mammoth requires low-temperature heat like boiling water. Once the CO2 is released from the filters, storage partner Carbfix transports it underground, where it reacts with basaltic rock through a natural process to be transformed into stone and permanently sequestered. Climeworks verifies and certifies the whole process by independent third parties. 

“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,” said Jan Wurzbacher, co-founder and co-CEO of Climeworks. 

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So far, just in the last 72 hours, Mammoth has captured its first 200 kg of CO2 from air and permanently stored it underground with partner Carbfix, producing its first direct air capture removals. At a press conference unveiling the Mammoth plant, co-CEO of Climeworks Jan Wurzbacher shared that one third of the plant’s lifetime capacity, which is 25 years, had already been sold to customers. With demand quickly growing, the rest of the Mammoth’s removal capacity is expected to be sold in the next months, or up to 1 – 2 years. 

Mammoth plant. Credit: Climeworks

In terms of cost per ton of removal from Mammoth, a more precise estimate could be given in the next 1 to 2 years after operation of the plant. As of today, the company’s price is said to be closer to the $1000 per ton mark rather than the $100 per ton due to the current scale of the facility which is relatively small compared to the million ton-scale future planned projects. Going towards 2050, Mr Wurzbacher expects the price to be as low as $100 per ton of direct air capture removal.

“Fewer people know that the big investments we are making and have been made in the past are R&D and development. Around 200 of the 500 people at Climeworks are constantly working on developing the next generation direct air capture technology… Quite soon we will release our next generation technology which will allow energy savings and the steep price reduction curve we are currently working on, in parallel to the deployment curve…,” explained Mr Wurzbacher.

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