A Swiss startup wants to fight climate change with machines that suck carbon dioxide out of the air, said Adele Peters at Fast Company. Zurich-based Climeworks' CO2 collectors are housed in shipping containers. "Small fans pull air into the collectors, where a sponge-like filter soaks up carbon dioxide," which is later released "in a pure form that can be sold, made into other products, or buried underground." Eventually, governments and corporations may pay the company to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to meet ambitious climate goals, though the collecting machines would need "to be built at massive scale" to make an impact.

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Climeworks estimates that it would need 750,000 shipping ­container–size units to capture 1 percent of global emissions. That number is not as outlandish as it seems, however. "The same number of shipping containers pass through the Port of Shanghai every two weeks."