Ocean Visions Launchpad Now Accepting Applications: Will Provide Tailored Expert Support to Selected Competitors for XPRIZE Carbon Removal

Ocean Visions Launchpad

Ocean Visions today opened applications for its “Launchpad” to support competitors to the $100 million XPRIZE Carbon Removal who are pursuing ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR) pathways. The Ocean Visions Launchpad will provide tailored teams of experts drawn from the Ocean Visions Network to assist selected competitors as they compete to win the $100 million XPRIZE Carbon Removal, funded by the Musk Foundation.

Ocean Visions will work with the selected competitors to identify the specific technical and disciplinary expertise, as well as key physical resources (such as testing facilities, vessels, and labs), that they most need to enhance their ability to compete. Ocean Visions will then recruit appropriate experts from within its Network to build customized teams from relevant disciplines and expertise. These advisory teams will provide ongoing technical advice and support over 12-24 months, without charge, to help the selected competitors maximize their chances of winning the prize.

The application process is open to innovators anywhere in the world competing with an ocean-based CDR pathway. Details of the application process and application template can be found here. The application period closes September 24, 2021.

“We’re excited to partner with Ocean Visions to support teams as they compete for XPRIZE Carbon Removal,” says Nikki Batchelor, Prize Director for the XPRIZE Carbon Removal. “Ocean-based carbon removal technologies remain underdeveloped and burgeoning concepts will benefit greatly from the expertise that the Ocean Visions Network can provide.”

This XPRIZE comes at an inflection point for civilization. Severe climate change impacts are arriving much earlier than forecasted and at lower levels of greenhouse gases than predicted by models. Many of the most transformative impacts are in the ocean.

Currently, most global efforts to address climate disruption are focused on reducing current and future emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants. While vital, this path alone is no longer sufficient. The world’s best science clearly spells out the need for gigaton-scale clean-up of the greenhouse gas pollution already in the biosphere[1] in order to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, and to ultimately restore our climate.

“We are in a race against time, and time is winning. We need to clean up the massive quantity of legacy carbon pollution that is choking the planet and killing the ocean,” says Brad Ack, Executive Director and Chief Innovation Officer at Ocean Visions. “While we must explore all alternatives, some of the most promising are those that build on natural processes that already occur in the ocean; small increases to the ocean’s total storage could have enormous impacts on remediating climate disruption.”

Through its Network, and in partnership with the Grantham Environmental Trust, Ocean Visions is already fielding similar expert teams to evaluate and advise ocean-based carbon dioxide removal initiatives. The Ocean Visions Launchpad is an expansion of this important work.

About Ocean Visions
Ocean Visions Inc. brings together leading oceanographic research and academic institutions with private sector and public-interest organizations to design and advance solutions to the growing threats to our ocean. We are committed to reversing the climate crisis in the ocean, increasing the resilience of coastal systems and communities to climate impacts, and building a climate-resilient aquatic food system. To learn more, visit www.oceanvisions.org or follow @Ocean_Visions on Twitter.

XPRIZE is a global future-positive movement of over 1M people and rising, delivering truly radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. XPRIZE inspires and empowers a global community of problem-solvers to positively impact our world by crowdsourcing solutions through large-scale competitions, tackling the world’s grandest challenges in exploration, environment and human equity. Active competitions include the $100 Million XPRIZE Carbon Removal with Elon Musk, $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, $15 Million XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, $10 Million XPRIZE Rainforest, $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling and $1 Million Digital Learning Challenge. Donate, sign up or join a team at xprize.org.

[1] Global Warming of 1.5 ºC — (ipcc.ch)

Designing a Framework for Responsible Research: Sinking Seaweed for CO2 Proposal

Ocean Visions and its partner the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) announce a call for self-nominations from scientists, engineers, technologists, entrepreneurs, environmental managers, conservationists, and other relevant actors to join a working group to develop a framework for responsible research regarding the fate and environmental impacts of sinking marine biomass (seaweed) to the deep ocean for carbon dioxide removal.

Carbon dioxide removal is now a globally recognized requirement alongside emissions reductions to stop, and eventually reverse, the climate emergency. Ocean-based pathways of carbon dioxide removal, while nascent, are quickly gaining attention as a diverse community of interests seeks to better determine whether ocean-based carbon removal pathways can contribute to meaningful carbon dioxide removal in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

To accelerate the research, development, and testing of technologies in order to make well-informed decisions, Ocean Visions recently engaged a global network of experts in the design of technology road maps for ocean-based carbon dioxide removal pathways.

One of the ocean-based pathways considered in these road maps, and receiving attention well beyond, is the intentional sinking of seaweed to sequester the carbon at the bottom of the ocean (for example, see this article). Yet little is known about the scale and permanence of carbon sequestration, and the environmental impacts, of intentionally sinking seaweed.

Ocean Visions and MBARI are pleased to advance progress on one of the first-order priorities identified in the road maps: design of a globally applicable research framework to improve knowledge about the CO2 fate and environmental impacts of intentionally sinking seaweed biomass to the deep ocean for the purposes of long-term carbon sequestration.

Working Group Terms of Reference:

We are taking nominations to assemble a team of ~20 people to produce, through facilitated conversations:

  1. An asset inventory of all existing and near-term future resources available to support studies, including but not limited to:
    • Deep-sea observatories amenable to experimental studies (i.e., will not impact long-term ecological studies)
    • Needed experimental equipment
    • Remotely operated, autonomous, and human-operated vehicles
    • So-called “natural laboratories” that can provide important analogs to intentional sinking of macroalgae
  2. Design of template experiments (considering resources in #1) to answer questions regarding:
    • Fate of the carbon embedded in the seaweed, including the potential for remineralization or burial
    • Potential environmental impacts on deep-sea species and habitats
    • Critical deposition thresholds (e.g., x kg of seaweed deposited per square kilometer of seafloor) that trigger ecosystem changes
  3. Provide cost estimates for the various experimental designs described in #2 that will produce actionable information for policy makers.

Specific Working Group Products/Outcomes:

  1. Develop and publish an online open asset inventory to highlight resources available to study this question.
  1. Design and publish template model experiments, along with their estimated costs. These model experiments will be made openly available so that they can be utilized and adapted by the global scientific community, including the public and philanthropic funding sources who may support the research.

Selection and Logistics 
Working group members will be selected to provide a balanced representation of relevant expertise with due consideration of expertise, experience, geographical, and gender diversity. We anticipate a commitment of 8-10 hours per month for six months in virtual meetings. Working group members will be paid an honorarium for their services.

The deadline for submitting self-nominations is August 22, 2021


If you encounter technical difficulties with the application form or have any specific questions, please contact Program Lead Dr. Catherine Jadot (cath.jadot@oceanvisions.org).

About Ocean Visions
Ocean Visions is a consortium of leading US oceanographic and academic institutions working in partnership with diverse members of the private sector to catalyze science and engineering research and innovation into real-world applications and scalable solutions to address the growing crisis in our oceans and climate.

The mission of the Ocean Visions Network is to identify, evaluate, develop, test, demonstrate, and ultimately deploy equitable, durable, and scalable solutions to the ocean’s most pressing environmental challenges. The Network brings together diverse institutions and sectors with a common interest in ocean solutions.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) (www.mbari.org) was founded by David Packard as an advanced center for ocean research and technology development. MBARI strives to address important problems in ocean science through the development of better instruments, systems, and methods for ocean exploration and research. MBARI emphasizes teamwork between scientists, engineers, and marine operations to develop, test, and deploy instruments ROVs, AUVs, and other ocean assets from its three ships.