Carbon capture plant in Wyoming will pull 5 million tons of CO2 from air each year

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INTRO: Though it’s still a controversial technology, direct air capture—also called carbon capture—is gaining traction. In the last few years, carbon capture plants have sprung up in Switzerland, Iceland, the US, and Canada. Now a facility that will dwarf all the rest is being built in the Cowboy State: Wyoming. Project Bison will aim to remove five million tons of atmospheric CO2 annually by 2030.

Given the total amount of CO2 that’s in the atmosphere—and still being emitted every day—five million seems like a paltry number; in 2019, the US alone emitted an estimated 5,130 million metric tons of the stuff. But when compared to the not-too-extensive history of direct air capture facilities, five million tons is a lot.

The world’s first commercial carbon capture plant opened near Zurich, Switzerland in 2017. It ran as a three-year demonstration project, capturing an estimated 900 tons of CO2 (the equivalent to the annual emissions of 200 cars) per year.

One year ago, a plant about four times as large as the Zurich facility started operating in Iceland. Called Orca (after the Icelandic word for energy), it’s currently the largest operational facility of its type, capturing 4,000 tons of carbon per year (that’s equal to the emissions of 790 cars—again, pretty small potatoes, right?). The plant consists of eight “collector containers” about the size and shape of a shipping container.

Climeworks, the Swiss company that built Orca, broke ground in late June on another plant in Iceland called Mammoth. With a CO₂ capture capacity of 36,000 tons per year, Mammoth will be almost 10 times larger than Orca, with 80 collector containers.

Lining up these progressively-larger plants, we go from 900 captured tons of CO2; to 4,000; to 36,000; to 5,000,000. That doesn’t make Project Bison seem quite as negligible.

The new plant is a joint venture between Los Angeles-based CarbonCapture and Dallas-based Frontier Carbon Solutions. The former is building the facility, and the latter will be charged with sequestering the captured carbon... (MORE - missing details)

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