We can no longer reverse the climate crisis through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions alone. Current levels of CO2 in our air and ocean will persist for decades, if not centuries, and continue to drive dangerous changes – including in the ocean. We need to remove between 100 – 1000 gigatons of carbon dioxide by the end of this century just to hold temperatures to a 1.5°C increase – the goal in the Paris Agreement.
Potential solutions are within reach. There are many viable ways to clean up atmospheric and oceanic CO2. To date, most carbon dioxide removal (CDR) has been focused on land-based solutions, such as afforestation or direct air capture. There are also many promising solutions that that build on the ocean’s natural processes – aka ocean-based CDR.
The $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal, funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation, is a four-year global competition inviting innovators and teams from anywhere in the world to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans, and sequester it durably and sustainably.
The Ocean Visions Launchpad
The Ocean Visions Launchpad supports selected $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal competitors who are using ocean-based technologies. The objective is to help test and validate their technologies and business models and ultimately improve their chances of success. Here’s how it works:
Identify Team Needs: Ocean Visions works with our selected cohort of 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 succeed.
Assemble Expert Advisors: Ocean Visions recruits appropriate experts from within its diverse Network to build customized teams from relevant disciplines and expertise. These advisory teams provide ongoing technical advice and support.
Ocean Visions received more than 50 applicants for its Launchpad program. Using a scoring framework that assessed applicants in areas of feasibility, innovation, and implementation, the following six teams were selected:
Captura is developing electrochemical approaches and scalable technologies to extract CO2 from seawater for sequestration purposes. Captura’s offshore platform system will use a novel electrodialysis unit to split and separate water molecules into acid and base, enabling the capture of high-purity CO2 gas and helping restore the pH balance of seawater —the only system inputs being oceanwater and sunlight.
Ebb Carbon is pioneering a new approach to ocean-based carbon removal. Their proprietary electrochemical system uses low carbon electricity to separate salt water into acid and base, enhancing the ocean’s natural ability to safely store excess atmospheric carbon dioxide, while reducing ocean acidity. Sensors and software control how much base is returned to the ocean, to verify the amount of CO2 removed.
Phykos is growing seaweed to attempt to capture carbon from the ocean surface. They plan on using robotic vessels that will navigate to optimal conditions to grow seaweed. Autonomous and mechanized platforms will allow for periodic harvesting, whereby sheared seaweed sinks to the deep ocean—taking with it embodied carbon.
Running Tide is deploying and testing free-floating microforests in the open ocean to sequester carbon before sinking into the deep ocean for durable storage. A proprietary system will remotely monitors these microforests, quantifying kelp growth, carbon content, and sinking locations.
Seafields plans to harness the power of the floating seaweed Sargassum to capture and store carbon at scale. Offshore sustainable aqua-farms, irrigated by pipes that bring nutrient-rich waters to the surface, will support the cultivation of Sargassum, which will then be harvested. Carbon-rich leftovers will then be baled, compressed, and sunk to the bottom of the ocean to lock away carbon.
TROFX is currently demonstrating offshore structures for macroalgae cultivation and nutrient upwelling, while developing proprietary technology for the extraction of valuable protein components. The team aims to demonstrate rugged and low capital cost infrastructure capable of producing massive quantities of biomass, and an efficient system for precisely transporting macroalgae into the deep ocean for sequestration.
Co-founder and CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company
Ocean Visions Executive Director and Chief Innovation Officer
Ocean Visions worked with each Launchpad team to identify the specific technical and disciplinary expertise, as well as key physical resources, that they most need to enhance their ability to succeed. Ocean Visions then recruited appropriate experts from within its diverse Network to build customized teams. These advisory teams provide ongoing technical advice and support.
Research Associate at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Board Member and Founder, Headwall Photonics
Senior Scientist and Benthic Ecologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Assistant Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research
Obayashi Professor in the School of Engineering and Professor of Oceans at Stanford University
Independent Senior Forest Advisor
Associate Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge
Professor of Marine Biogeochemical Modelling at GEOMAR and the University of Kiel, Germany
Assistant Scientist and Principal Investigator at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Professor of Marine Chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Wim van Rees
Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Tanya Brodie Rudolph
CEO at Enviromer and Research Fellow at Centre for Sustainability Transitions
Professor in Marine Ecology and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
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.