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Awesome Extractors - Climeworks, a Swiss company, filters carbon dioxide out of the air to contribut

Waste incineration is not exactly something that makes people think of improved air quality. But in the community of Hinwil in the Swiss canton of Zurich, the two aspects are being combined in a project that’s unique worldwide. On the ground, a local waste management authority converts trash to slag by burning; above, Climeworks turns carbon dioxide into plant food. It’s an efficient cycle as the waste incineration provides energy for the CO2 extractors on the roof. They bring the greenhouse gas via a pipeline to a greenhouse 400 meters away, where a nursery uses it to boost the growth of cucumbers and tomatoes. The process turns 900 tons of CO2 from a climate nemesis into a growth booster.

The technology is called direct air capture (DAC) and the plant was developed by Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher. The two engineers became acquainted early in the millennium during their studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. “We decided on the first day to found a company together,” says Wurzbacher. “That was our big dream.” In 2007 they began research on technologies for extracting carbon dioxide from the air. Just two years later, they founded Climeworks.

The company has set itself some ambitious goals: “Technologies for removing CO2 from the air are indispensable for reaching the two-degree target,” says Valentin