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This is CDR Episode 16: SeaChange

This Is CDR is an ongoing series of online events to explore the range of carbon dioxide removal solutions that are currently in development. In past episodes, we’ve looked at...

This Is CDR is an ongoing series of online events to explore the range of carbon dioxide removal solutions that are currently in development. In past episodes, we’ve looked at a number of companies researching ocean-based carbon removal solutions. This week, we go deep into the details with the Los Angeles-based startup SeaChange.

Cofounders Dante Simonetti and Gaurav Sant walk us through their process, which accelerates the ocean’s natural carbonate cycle. In a nutshell (or seashell, if you will), the ocean stores a lot more CO2 than the atmosphere, and the more CO2 we emit into the atmosphere, the more the ocean absorbs – to a point. So if we can clear some of that excess CO2 out of the ocean, we can allow the ocean to remove more from the atmosphere. 

Sea creatures already do this, slowly – for example, mollusks absorb dissolved CO2 to build their shells. SeaChange can recreate this process at faster speeds, treating seawater electrochemically to separate out dissolved CO2 into calcium carbonate (shell material) that can then be sequestered, while the de-carbonized water is returned to the ocean. 

One advantage of this process is that solidified CO2 is less dangerous and easier to sequester than CO2 in gas form. And as far as scalability, the ocean is notably, well, huge, and may offer one of our best arenas for carbon removal at the gigaton scale we’re going to need. 

That may explain why large pro-CDR corporations, including Stripe, have invested in SeaChange. To learn more, be sure to watch the presentation. Viewers with a chemistry background may get a little extra out of this episode, as it really dives into the particulars of the process. And please check back next week for more This is CDR!

Peter Smith Peter Malamud Smith is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. In his non-OpenAir life he works as a game developer programming wizards to cast the right spells.

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