Carbon is the most valuable resource on earth, according to Climeworks, which has developed machines that suck it from the air so it can be turned into useful materials.

“We capture CO2 from the atmosphere,” said Christoph Beuttler, head of climate policy at the Swiss company. “We’re mining the sky because there’s too much carbon in it. And it’s a sustainable resource.”

Climeworks has developed direct air capture (DAC) devices that extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Making plastic and oil from CO2

In 2017, it opened the world’s first commercial direct air capture plant in Switzerland, selling the captured CO2 for use in fertilisers, fizzy drinks and synthetic fuels. The company is currently building its fifteenth plant in Iceland, which will open this summer.

If scaled up sufficiently, its technology could play a large part in reducing atmospheric carbon and thereby preventing climate change, the company believes.

At the same time, it could produce large amounts of valuable carbon that could be used to make everything from fuels to plastics.

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