DecarbonisationCarbfix is turning to stone increasing volumes of carbon dioxide emissions
- Year founded 2019
- Revenue growth from 2020 to 2021: 50%
- Lead investors: Carbfix is a subsidiary of Reykjavik Energy
- Offices (HQs): Reykjavík, Iceland
- FTEs: 10-20
- Key clients/partners: SORPA (Icelandic Regional Waste Management Association), Government of Iceland, ON Power, Climeworks, Elkem, Aker Carbon Capture, Rio Tinto, Dan-Unity CO2
- Key executives:
- Dr. Edda Sif Pind Aradóttir, CEO, PhD in Theoretical Chemistry, previously Head of Innovation and Strategic Planning at Reykjavik Energy
- Dr. Bergur Sigfússon, Head of CO2 Capture and Injection, PhD in Soil Science
- Dr. Kári Helgason, Head of Research & Innovation, PhD in Astrophysics, previously at NASA
- Dr. Sandra Ósk Snæbjörnsdóttir, Head of CO2 Mineral Storage, PhD in Geoscience
- Kristinn Ingi Larusson, MBA, Head of Business Development
Since it became evident that projected emission cuts alone would not slow global warming in line with targets, the scientific endeavour to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) has accelerated. Technologies have developed to capture CO2 emitted from power stations and industrial processes; the gas is then compressed and transported for storage. Storage typically involves injecting pure CO2 into underground rock that is particularly reactive. Over thousands of years the CO2 will naturally react with the rock to form a solid mineral, a process called mineralisation.
Carbfix’s technology accelerates the mineralisation by dissolving CO2 in water prior to or during injection, which essentially fast forwards the first few steps of the natural underground process. Carbfix then injects the carbonated (sparkling!) water underground, where the mineralisation process rapidly completes. The shortened time frame (years versus millenia) eradicates the risk of CO2 leakage, which gives CO2 producers confidence that their emissions have been securely and permanently stored.
Carbfix’s development pace is impressive: three years from concept to pilot, then four years from pilot to industrial scale. However, global annual CO2 emissions are upwards of 35 billion tonnes, whereas the annual capacity of Carbfix’s storage site at the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, for example, is 20,000 tonnes. Large cost reduction in the carbon capture and storage chain is needed to achieve the scale up necessary for Carbfix, and other carbon storage technologies, to play a meaningful role in reaching net zero. A developed, internationally-coordinated market for CO2 avoidance, including incentives, will be essential in making carbon capture and storage technologies viable.
plans for 2022
- Prepare for full-scale implementation of the carbon capture and storage system at Hellisheidi power plant supported by a EUR 3.9 million EU grant.
- Drill first injection well for their flagship storage facility, the Coda Terminal, which will store CO2 shipped in from different capture sites in Northern Europe.
- Three other pilot injections at new sites across Europe.
who should connect with this company
Public and private owners of power plants who are aiming to reduce their net emissions (power plants are ideally suited to maximise carbon capture and storage technologies). Public sector organisations, companies, or individuals looking for exciting carbon offsetting options.
company in action
In September 2021, Carbfix and Climeworks began operating the world’s first commercial direct air capture and storage chain. Climeworks is a Swiss company specialising in direct air capture of CO2 through a fan and filter system. Climeworks built a direct air capture system, called Orca, at the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland. Carbfix then built the transportation and storage infrastructure to inject the captured CO2 into the basalt rock underground near to the power plant. Watch an explainer of how Carbfix works here.
Carbon offsetting incentives will form an essential part of financing the scale up necessary for carbon capture and storage technologies. Climeworks (Carbfix’s direct air capture partner) has a CO2 removal subscription service for individuals or companies, which the likes of Microsoft have invested in. However, the cost of removing CO2 through the subscription service (€1000/tonne) is currently an order of magnitude greater than the price of an EU carbon permit (<€100/tonne). In 2022, Carbfix plans to launch their own offsetting service.
Some climate scientists and activists are concerned that the assumptions made in emissions projections about future carbon capture and storage capabilities are too optimistic and ultimately distract from actions to cut emissions. While these concerns are valid to an extent, StateUp believes that carbon capture and storage will play a role in achieving net zero and that government action to address market failures can accelerate this, as it did for wind power.