Valser, a Swiss sparkling water brand owned by Coca-Cola, will soon sell beverages containing carbon dioxide that comes directly from the atmosphere.
Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland, a vendor that makes Valser water, has partnered with Climeworks, which specializes in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Louise Charles, the communications manager at Climeworks, told Business Insider that the new drinks will hit stores within the first three months of 2019.
Climeworks is building machines with filters that suck in carbon dioxide as air passes through. After a filter becomes saturated, it is heated to about 100 degrees celsius, which releases the carbon dioxide and allows the gas to be collected. One filter can be reused for several thousand cycles, according to Climeworks.
The machines are meant to help reduce the effects of global warming, which is projected to produce devastating effects in the next several decades. Human activities, from forest clearing to fossil fuel burning, have played a large role in causing temperatures to rise, and Earth's atmosphere has never contained as much carbon dioxide as it does now.
Climeworks has expanded to 14 locations across Europe, including three flagship sites and some that are still under construction. Charles said the company works in three different markets - food, beverage, and agriculture; renewable fuels; and carbon dioxide removal.
The Valser partnership falls under the first category. Since May 2017, Climeworks has also operated a Swiss power plant that supplies carbon dioxide to a greenhouse, which uses the gas as an airborne fertilizer for vegetables.
In October 2017, the company launched a power plant in Iceland to permanently and safely remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. At the plant, Climeworks mixes captured carbon dioxide with water and pumps it underground, where it is mineralized.
One of the most recent Climeworks plants, which opened in Italy during October 2018, focuses on creating renewable methane.
"Being active in food, beverage, agriculture, and renewable fuels and materials is great, because the CO2 is being recycled," Charles said. "But we are not actually reducing the CO2 content in the air with those two markets. We can only do that with the carbon dioxide removal."
Climeworks is also working on reducing the cost of its technology. The company spends about R8,228 per ton to remove carbon dioxide from the air, though Charles said she anticipates a drop to about R2,742 per ton in the next three or four years. Within the next decade, Climeworks aims to hit its long-term goal of R1,372 a ton.
While the Coca-Cola partnership is currently limited to Switzerland, Charles said Climeworks technology could one day be used all around the world. The company also plans on selling its carbon dioxide removal service to individuals. Charles said the final product is still being developed, though Climeworks hopes to launch it during the second quarter of 2019.
A study released in December said global carbon-dioxide emissions have reached a record-high of 37.1 billion tons per year. Right now, Climeworks only collects about 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, but Charles said the team aims to capture 1% of the world's emissions by 2025.
"Ultimately what we are trying to do is halt climate change, or even reverse climate change, so be able to scale up to the size that could really make an impact," Charles said.
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