Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher are the founders of Climeworks, the world’s first company to install a commercial, operational plant for the capture of carbon dioxide from the air.

In May 2017, Climeworks was awarded The Helena Prize for their breakthrough technology. Climeworks develops small, medium, and large-scale plants that capture atmospheric carbon.

After air is drawn into Climeworks’ plant, CO2 within the air is chemically bound to the plant’s filter. Once the filter is saturated with CO2, it is heated to around 100 °C (212 °F). The CO2is then released from the filter and collected as concentrated CO2 gas to supply to customers or for negative emissions technologies, at which CO2-free air is then released back into the atmosphere. This continuous cycle is then ready to start again, and each filter is capable of lasting for several thousand cycles.

The byproduct of this process, CO2 gas, is sold to customers in key markets, including commercial agriculture, food and beverage industries, the energy sector and the automotive industry. Customers utilize this atmospheric CO2 in carbonated drinks or for producing carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels and materials. By using Climeworks’ CO2, customers can reduce their overall emissions as well as lowering their dependence on fossil energy. Climeworks’ plants are modular, scalable and can be located independently of emission sources, allowing the security of supply wherever there is atmospheric air.

Importantly, Climeworks’ plants can be utilized for negative emissions, which will be vital in the quest to limit a global temperature rise of 2°C. Compared to other carbon removal technologies, direct air capture does not depend on arable land, has a small physical footprint, and is fully scalable. Christoph and Jan met while attending University in Zürich and immediately decided to build a company together.

Christoph and Jan are both mechanical engineers by training. Christoph attended UC Berkeley before receiving an MSc with distinction and a Ph.D. from ETH Zürich, while Jan attended the University of New South Wales before also receiving an MSc with distinction and a Ph.D. from ETH Zürich.