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The first ocean-assisted carbon removal plant

Words by Smiley Team

The ocean is one of the building blocks of all ecosystems and serves as one of the largest food providers to humans but it’s facing an outside crisis – ocean acidification.

As defined by the National Ocean Service, Ocean acidification is a process by which Co2 is absorbed into the water, increasing the number of hydrogen ions. What results is more acidic water that affects baseline organisms like plankton and coral the most, making it harder for them to live, and even weakening or melting the outer shells of other sea creatures.

The ocean has taken in more than a third of all the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

To address this, Hawaii-based company Heimdal has opened the world’s first ocean-assisted carbon capture plant. 

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The plant, called the Heimdal V1, was built into a desalination plant – something that already takes water out of the ocean and treats it – and uses electrolysis to separate hydrogen and oxygen from the carbon-based acids that are warming the sea.

The decarbonated ocean water is returned to the sea and the excess acid is sold as things like hydrochloric acid.

“When the excess acidity is removed from the ocean, it shifts how CO2 exists back to how it was pre-Industrial Revolution,” Erik Millar, co-CEO of Heimdal, told Fast Company.

Heimdal’s technology is held in a shipping container and attaches to existing equipment like the aforementioned desalination plants. The machines themselves are able to pull 1,000 tons of carbon out of the water per year at a cost of $475 per ton. They’re hoping to improve that to 5,000 tons at $200 per ton. 

The development of the machines began at Oxford where Millar, and his cofounder Marcus Lima were students.

“As de-acidified brine reacts with dissolved CO2 and prompts the mineralization process, it also enables the oceans to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” Heimdal’s website reads. “This provides immediate relief to rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the ocean simultaneously, while safely and naturally sequestering it for hundreds of thousands of years.”

Inspired to act?

FIND OUT MORE: You can check out the Heimdal project on their website.

RIVER CLEAN-UPS: Always keep an eye out for local waterway cleanups, whether that be rivers or oceans. Just cleaning up litter can help the animals in the area. Find out more at American Rivers.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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