By: April Carson
A firm in the middle of the Pacific has developed a revolutionary technology that takes use of existing infrastructure to extract carbon from the sea. The company, Carbon Engineering, has been working on the project for years and has now launched the world's first commercial ocean-assisted carbon removal plant.
The benefit of removing carbon from the ocean is straightforward: it contains more carbon in less space than air. Furthermore, plenty of machinery already remove water from the sea, such as desalination facilities, so it's a simple matter of linking the gadget held within a shipping container to existing networks.
In this scenario, Heimdal is taking advantage of the Big Island's desalination plants. As seawater is taken in for processing, the air bubbles through a tank of caustic soda. This absorbs the carbon dioxide, which is then pumped into another container where it reacts with calcium to form limestone.
The Heimdal V1 then utilizes electrolysis to isolate hydrogen and oxygen from the carbon-based acids that are warming the water.
Carbon is removed from the purified seawater and it is then returned to the ocean without carbon, while the separated acids are marketed as hydrochloric acid—a common industrial and laboratory chemical that is manufactured in factories to fill a 20-million-tons-per-year worldwide market.
“It shifts how CO2 exists back to how it was pre-Industrial Revolution when the excessive acidity is removed from the ocean,” says Erik Millar, co-CEO of Heimdal.
This is the first time in history that carbon has been removed from the ocean on a large scale and it's a significant step in mitigating climate change.
“The carbonic acid formed in the laboratory is much less acidic than normal carbonic acid, which causes ocean acidification. Instead, it's a mixture of bicarbonate and carbonate. These are long-term stable forms of mineralized CO2 that travel to the ocean floor and are stored for more than 100,000 years.
The planet's oceans are the world's largest reservoir of carbon, accounting for about 45 percent of the total amount. Carbon in the oceans has a significant impact on global temperatures, which is why it's so important to understand how it affects the cycle. The global carbon cycle is made up of several interconnected systems that move carbon from one place to another.
The seas have absorbed a third of all CO2 emissions pumped into the atmosphere, making them warmer and more acidic. Carbon in the ocean will eventually be released back to the atmosphere, so removing it while it's concentrated in a thicker solution (water) means humans remove more of it and at a quicker rate.
Each Heimdal, deployed in its shipping container, can remove 1,000 metric tons of carbon from the ocean each year at a fraction of the cost of air capture techniques. Current prototype Heimdal removes carbon from the sea for around $475 per ton, but future plants should be capable of removing 5,000 tons a year for less than $200 per ton.
Heimdal predicts that in five years' time, if industry interests in purchasing carbon offsets continue as they have, the company could be managing 5 million per year.
This is not to say that ocean-assisted carbon removal will be the savior of our climate crisis, but it could potentially buy us some time while we continue to decarbonize our economy.
It is also important to remember that any carbon removal technology is only as good as its ability to keep the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere permanently. Heimdal plans to do this by injecting the CO2 into basalt rock formations a kilometer below the seabed.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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