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One of Europe's largest carbon removal plants opens in Finland

Led by CEO Henrietta Moon and CTO Chris Carstens, Carbo Culture is on a quest to remove one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Miikka Piirinen

Finnish startup Carbo Culture has unveiled one of Europe's most significant carbon removal facilities, located just north of Helsinki in the municipality of Kerava.

Named R3Carbo Culture's plant aims to extract 3 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, equivalent to the emissions of 1 500 petrol cars.

This achievement is powered by biochar, a type of charcoal made by heating biomass. Biochar can absorb carbon dioxide from the air and potentially store it for millions of years.

R3 uses dust pellets from nearby wood manufacturers as feedstock, specifically waste wood unsuitable for other uses like construction. Keeping the supply chain local minimises associated emissions.

According to CEO Henrietta Moon, biochar offers benefits beyond carbon removal.

“It acts as a sponge, retaining some of the nutrients and water, which is especially important for climate adaptation,” she said, in an interview with Sifted.

“We trap about 50 per cent of the carbon that's contained in the original biomass, but 50 per cent of the carbon we lose as gases. Those gases are used for district heating,” Moon added.

The project demonstrates Carbo Culture's scalable technology and was partly funded by a 2.3-million-euro grant from German federal agency SPRIND and a 2.2-million-euro grant from the European Innovation Council.

Indeed, the European biochar production landscape is growing, with an expected 180 plants in operation by the end of 2023. Of these, Finland already hosts Carbofex, a facility removing over 3 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

These activities align with Finland’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2035 and carbon negative by 2040. Such lofty aspirations have local spurred developments in the energy, construction and mobility sectors, to name a few.

By: James O’Sullivan