Swiss Pickles Set to Benefit From First Carbon Capture Plant

Climeworks AG, the Swiss company that captures carbon from the air, opened its first commercial facility at a farm outside of Zurich.

Carbon dioxide extracted by Climeworks’ direct air capture plant will pumped into greenhouses owned by Gebrueder Meier Primanatura AG in Hinwil, according to a statement from the company. The greenhouse gas will be used as a fertilizer to boost the growth of tomatoes and cucumbers — the fruits used to make pickles.

“It’s our ambition to capture one percent of global CO2 emissions in 2025,” Climeworks co-Chief Executive Officer and founder Jan Wurzbacher, said in a video. Climeworks, which employs about 45 workers, is counting on the “one-step” simplicity and scalability of its carbon capture technology to win customers, co-CEO Christoph Gebald said by phone.

Enhancing the growth of tomatoes and cucumbers is a first step to a far more formidable plan for Climeworks that will require the support of industries and governments to capture carbon dioxide as part of their commitments under the Paris climate accord. The Climeworks plant produce 900 tons of carbon dioxide a year — equivalent to the annual volume of greenhouse gases emitted by 190 passenger vehicles.

Climeworks is targeting carbon capture and storage as its main business model, supplemented by carbon offset deals with companies and applications such as the greenhouse and clean fuel partnerships. It forged a partnership with German carmaker Audi AG in 2013 to use the Swiss company’s technology to produce synthetic fuels, Gebald said.

The company has won financial support from the Swiss government, Zurich Cantonal Bank and European Union. Climeworks can currently make 150 air capture units a year.

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