The problem is an all too familiar one – there is simply too much CO2 in the air. Though we can capture CO2 before it is emitted from our factory chimneys, we should also be able to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere. 

The technology, known as Direct Air Capture (DAC), already exists and VITO is examining what can be done to make DAC technology more efficient and more cost-effective.

To capture CO2 from the air, you need a ventilator that supplies major flows of air, a filter with a solid or liquid substrate that absorbs the CO2 and heat in order to extract the CO2 from the substrate, once it has been captured. At the end of that process, you are left with CO2 that is ideal for use as a raw material. It is then perfectly possible for that “captured” CO2 to be used as a raw material.

The greatest challenge however lies in the cost price. Not only do you need a ventilator, but also a large quantity of energy to generate the heat that is needed to extract the CO2 from the substrate, once it has been captured. Those costs can be substantially reduced if we make use of existing ventilators and if we use residual heat to extract the CO2.

The Balmatt site in Mol, where VITO’s deep geothermal plant is in operation, is the ideal location for the development of a cost-effective DAC system. The site is already home to the 108 ventilators needed to provide cooling in the geothermal plant. What is more, the residual heat from the geothermal plant can be used to provide the heating that is needed to remove the CO2 from the substrate.