Providing tailored expert support to innovators developing ocean-based carbon dioxide removal strategies
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.
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.
“To address the enormous challenges associated with climate change, we need grand ideas that can be scaled up.”
Wim Van Rees
Assistant Professor, MIT