This is CDR is an ongoing series of online events to explore the range of carbon dioxide removal solutions that are currently in development. This week, we go deep on SEA MATE – an electrochemical process that allows more CO2 to be stored in the ocean – with Dr. Matthew Eisaman of Stony Brook University.
In terms of keeping atmospheric CO2 under control, the ocean has been a friend to us, albeit a friend who may eventually stop returning our calls. Dr. Eisaman explains that the ocean has absorbed 31% of human CO2 emissions, thereby keeping atmospheric concentration lower than it otherwise would be. But the capacity of the ocean to absorb CO2 is limited, and as it absorbs more, it also becomes more acidic, which isn’t good for marine life.
His process, SEA MATE (which stands for Safe Elevation of Alkalinity for the Mitigation of Acidification Through Electrochemistry), removes acid from ocean water electrochemically. The resulting acid can be sold for use in carbon-neutral industrial processes, while the remaining alkalinic water can be returned to the ocean, where it can absorb and sequester more CO2 in the form of bicarbonate (a process we’ve covered before).
SEA MATE units could be modular, paired with and powered by offshore wind farms, and even used in tandem with aquaculture, as locally less-acidic ocean water could help with marine crop growth. All in all, it’s a really promising approach, and Dr. Eisaman’s presentation is detailed, lucid, and encouraging – very much worth a watch. Thanks for checking it out, and please come back next week for more This Is CDR!