Skip to main content

Construction begins on ‘Mammoth’ direct air capture plant

Construction begins on ‘Mammoth’ direct air capture plant


Even bigger plants are on the way

Share this story

Groundbreaking of Climeworks’ new Direct Air Capture plant in Iceland, called Mammoth
Climeworks announced the groundbreaking of its new Direct Air Capture plant in Iceland, called Mammoth.
Image: Climeworks

Swiss climate tech company Climeworks announced yesterday that it has broken ground on its biggest facility yet for capturing carbon dioxide from the air. The new Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant, named Mammoth, will significantly scale up the company’s operations in Hellisheiði, Iceland.

That’s where Climeworks built Orca, which was the largest DAC plant in the world when it came online last September. Orca can capture up to 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, roughly equivalent to how much climate pollution 790 gas-guzzling passenger vehicles release annually. Mammoth, in comparison, can capture about nine times as much CO2 as Orca.

Mammoth, in comparison, can capture about nine times as much CO2

There are fewer than 20 such plants in the world, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), and they don’t yet have the capacity to make a serious dent in the greenhouse gas emissions humans have dumped into the atmosphere. The IEA says that to do that, the direct air capture industry has to grow to be able to draw down 85 million metric tons of CO2 by the end of the decade. For comparison, it captures just 0.01 million metric tons today. (The Verge visualized the scale of the task earlier this year, which you can check out here.)

That’ll likely require a new generation of DAC plants, each capable of taking in 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year. So in the grand scheme of things, Mammoth — with the capacity to capture 36,000 tons of CO2 a year — isn’t quite so mammoth. Even so, Mammoth is an important test case for scaling up Direct Air Capture tech.

One of the usual drawbacks to Direct Air Capture as a climate fix is how much energy it takes to power this kind of facility. Luckily, both Mammoth and Orca are located within the ON Power Geothermal Park at Hellisheiði, so they can use nearby renewable geothermal energy and waste heat to separate CO2 from air. (You can read The Verge’s story about how Climeworks’ tech works here.)

There’s a larger plant under construction in Texas that’s supposed to be able to capture up to 1 million tons of CO2 by the time it’s operational in 2025. But that uses a different kind of filtration process that requires much hotter temperatures to take CO2 out of the ambient air. As a result, that operation is likely to rely on a combination of renewable energy and natural gas and will have to capture emissions from its own gas consumption. That project is backed by petroleum company Occidental, and some of the carbon it captures is expected to be used in a process that retrieves harder-to-reach oil reserves by injecting CO2 into the ground.

An illustration of what Climeworks’ new direct air capture plant, Mammoth, will look like once completed.
An illustration of what Climeworks’ new direct air capture plant, Mammoth, will look like once completed.
Image: Climeworks

That’s not the case so far with Mammoth and Orca, where the plan is to turn the CO2 into stone. Their location is also ideal because the carbon it captures can be stored underground nearby. Climeworks is working with another company called Carbfix to lock the CO2 away in the region’s basalt rock formations that, thanks to Iceland’s volcanic activity, have more nooks and crannies to fill than older basalt rock. That storage space minimizes the need to build out new networks of pipelines to transport captured CO2, which already have some environmental advocates nervous.

Mammoth is still very much in its infancy. Construction is expected to take place over the next 18 to 24 months.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 23 10 minutes in the clouds

Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.

Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.

External Link
Jay PetersSep 23
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.

External Link
Insiders made the most money off of Helium’s “People’s Network.”

Remember Helium, which was touted by The New York Times in an article entitled “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All?” Not only was the company misleading people about who used it — Salesforce and Lime weren’t using it, despite what Helium said on its site — Helium disproportionately enriched insiders, Forbes reports.

James VincentSep 23
Nvidia’s latest AI model generates endless 3D models.

Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.

Richard LawlerSep 23
Green light.

This week Friday brings the debut of Apple’s other new hardware. We’ve reviewed both the new AirPods Pro and this chonky Apple Watch Ultra, and now you’ll decide if you’re picking them up, or not.

Otherwise, we’re preparing for Netflix’s Tudum event this weekend and slapping Dynamic Island onto Android phones.

The Apple Watch Ultra on a woman’s wrist
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
External Link
Jess WeatherbedSep 23
Japan will fully reopen to tourists in October following two and a half years of travel restrictions.

Good news for folks who have been waiting to book their dream Tokyo vacation: Japan will finally relax Covid border control measures for visa-free travel and individual travelers on October 11th.

Tourists will still need to be vaccinated three times or submit a negative COVID-19 test result ahead of their trip, but can take advantage of the weak yen and a ‘national travel discount’ launching on the same date. Sugoi!

External Link
Thomas RickerSep 23
Sony starts selling the Xperia 1 IV with continuous zoom lens.

What does it cost to buy a smartphone that does something no smartphone from Apple, Google, Samsung can? $1,599.99 is Sony’s answer: for a camera lens that can shift its focal length anywhere between 85mm and 125mm.

Here’s Allison’s take on Sony’s continuous-zoom lens when she tested a prototype Xperia 1 IV back in May: 

Sony put a good point-and-shoot zoom in a smartphone. That’s an impressive feat. In practical use, it’s a bit less impressive. It’s essentially two lenses that serve the same function: portrait photography. The fact that there’s optical zoom connecting them doesn’t make them much more versatile.

Still, it is a Sony, and

External Link
Corin FaifeSep 23
If God sees everything, so do these apps.

Some Churches are asking congregants to install so-called “accountability apps” to prevent sinful behavior. A Wired investigation found that they monitor almost everything a user does on their phone, including taking regular screenshots and flagging LGBT search terms.