CO2 capture plant to enhance vegetable growth in Switzerland 

Posted: October 21, 2015 by oldbrew in innovation
Greenhouse effect [image credit:]

Greenhouse effect
[image credit:]

The first commercial scale plant capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will be built in Switzerland, with the greenhouse gas to be used to improve growth of vegetables, reports E & T Magazine. 

Of course…greenhouse gas…

The plant will be operated by Zurich-based Climeworks, a spin-off company from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich), and uses so-called Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology, which relies on a novel filter to extract carbon dioxide from the ambient air.

The gas binds to the surface of the reusable filter. When the filter is filled to its capacity, it is heated to 100°C to release the CO2, which will be used in a nearby greenhouse to enhance vegetable growth.

Agricultural firm Gebrüder Meier Primanatura, which owns the greenhouse, estimates the CO2 could enhance growth of lettuces by up to 20 per cent. The plant will have a capacity to remove 900 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a year and is due to start operation by mid-2016 as part of a three-year pilot project designed to enable full industrialisation of the technology.

Climeworks foresees similar plants could supply beverage companies with CO2 for fizzy drinks or deliver air-captured CO2 for Power-to-Gas / Power-to-Liquids technologies designed to store the energy from renewable electricity by producing synthetic fuels.

With a development cost of between €3-4 million, the plant will enable engineers to precisely determine the operational cost of the technology before further applications are developed and deployed worldwide.

Source: CO2 capture plant to enhance vegetable growth in Switzerland – E & T Magazine

Where there’s CO2 there’s money – for somebody.

  1. oldmanK says:

    This is a step backwards. In the Netherlands at one time exhaust from gas fired CC plant were linked to green-houses to increase the level of CO2 inside the green-house. That was twenty years ago.That was zero energy requirement, except for having a siting problem.

  2. ivan says:

    How are the greens going to spin this? After all doesn’t this prove that CO2 is an excellent plant food and if allowed to remain in the atmosphere will be of benefit to all farmers and growers not just those with special greenhouses.

  3. ivan says:

    That should have been ‘if allowed to remain in the atmosphere’ sorry.
    [updated – mod]

  4. rishrac says:

    Really? Are they creating more co2 as result of carbon capture? In commercial applications, like production of dry ice, they have to produce a large quantity of co2 in order to make it. There is so little co2 that it is expensive to concentrate it out of the atmosphere.

  5. catweazle666 says:

    As I recollect from my time in the chemical industry, the air distillers produce huge amounts of CO2 as a by-product of the liquefaction of nitrogen and oxygen, in fact I seem to remember it was something of a problem.

    In any case, I can’t imagine the economics of extracting the 0.04% of CO2 from the air when there is 10% at the very least in flue gas, the amount of energy needed to pump that quantity of air would surely be prohibitive.

  6. michael hart says:

    There is something delightfully ‘Swiss’ about that photo of clinically thriving tomato plants.

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    When was that attempt to grow hydroponic vegetables in the UK? I think it was in the 1970’s. Heated cooling water from a power station was used to supply heat to trays of tomatoes? To maximise usage the trays were then arranged on a travelling conveyer up and down a tower. There wasn’t enough sunlight so artificial lighting was added.
    What with the power usage for water pumping (sprays meant filters) lights and the conveyer there was never a hope that it would recover the operating costs let alone make money. The only difference between that and current green schemes is that it got dropped when it was obvious that it would require money for ever.

  8. PeterF says:

    It is one thing to produce/collect CO2 for industrial purposes. It is quite a different thing to produce/collect CO2 for food purposes, like fizzy drinks.

    So, what kind of “filter” is this actualy, and what is released upon heating that thing?

  9. oldbrew says:

    ‘ When the filter is filled to its capacity, it is heated to 100°C to release the CO2’

    Where is the energy coming from to generate 100°C of heat?

  10. DB says:

    From Canada earlier this year:
    Carbon Engineering in Canada is powering up a plant….just north of Vancouver, works like a huge air purifier for carbon dioxide: air is captured from the atmosphere, passes through a “scrubber” and carbon dioxide, which makes up just a tiny portion of that air, is extracted via a chemical capture solution….

    When the plant kicks the air out at the other end, the air has been ‘cleaned’ of co2: it contains one fifth of its original carbon dioxide. The other four-fifths of the co2 pulled from the air are then processed, to produce a concentrated stream, a final product of pure co2 that can be sold and re-used….

    Carbon Engineering’s plant is one attempt to bring the fossil fuel cycle into a more full circle-style recycling system, one that produces a finished, recycled product: concentrated, pure co2, which can be used as feed-stock for gas or diesel, moving co2 from tailpipes back into fuel tanks….The plant runs on natural gas – for every ton of co2 their plant processes from the air, they’re also capturing and processing a half ton of their own co2 emissions.

  11. kwillshaw says:

    Its already happening in Billingham on Tees where a huge tomato growing facility consisting of 10,000 tomato plants utilizes CO2, and waste heat from the nearby Terra Nitrogen fertilizer plant.

    Its clearly a successful operation with its customers being some of the largest British supermarkets so don’t expect the greens to boast of it anytime soon.

  12. oldbrew says:

    If you want cheap carbon dioxide, forget all these complex and costly industrial processes.

    Buy a large plastic bottle of cheap fizzy drink at the supermarket and shake it up. Take the top off and whoosh…loads of CO2 . Maybe save effort and just pour it on the plants – use the diet version though 🙂

  13. Mike says:

    Climeworks foresees similar plants could supply beverage companies with CO2 for fizzy drinks or deliver air-captured CO2 for Power-to-Gas / Power-to-Liquids technologies designed to store the energy from renewable electricity by producing synthetic fuels.

    An example of not thinking it through. Virtually every ammonia plant in the world already captures the CO2 and supplies it as dry ice and liquid CO2 for the drinks firms and almost certainly a lot more cheaply.

  14. Must have pressed enter by mistake. Was going to say
    Anyone that has brewed their own beer or made their own wine from grapes (or grape juice) knows that CO2 is produced from fermentation.. Fizzy drink manufacturers get their CO2 from breweries and in fact companies that produce alcoholic drinks often also make carbonated non=alcoholic drinks. When I was young we lived in a house which had a greenhouse at the back adjacent to the chimney for the stove which was always alight for hot water and cooking. The best temperature for beer & wine is 16-20C. What better place to brew and grow vegetables and herbs then in your own greenhouse.

  15. oldmanK says:

    CO2 is a by-product of the fractional distillation of liquified air, the main products being oxygen and nitrogen. It is then also easy to handle and transport; dry ice.