Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal

Sequim Bay, photo by Andrea Starr

Ocean alkalinity elevation (OAE) has the potential to mitigate both global CO2-driven climate change and regional impacts of ocean acidification (OA). However, there is currently disconnect between theoretical and practical research into OAE: most modeling studies are focused on the global implications of elevating alkalinity over entire ocean basins while most studies testing implementations remain limited to laboratory tests or mesocosms. We aim to push the field forward by bringing these two research spheres together to focus on the spatial scales that will be meaningfully affected by early field trials for OAE approaches. Through an ambitious partnership between the University of Washington (UW), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DoE), and Ebb Carbon, Inc. (Ebb Carbon), we propose to implement Ebb Carbon’s electrochemical OAE technology in a field trial at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and to model and monitor the OAE and the regional chemical impacts. Each of the three components—the field trial, modeling, and monitoring—will be integrated to address the cross-cutting questions facing this and other point-source OAE approaches:

● How effectively will the OAE approach mitigate OA and remove CO2, and what are the best metrics for gauging the efficacy?

● What observing assets are needed to ensure the safe operation of the approach when using real-time measurements in the region of alkalinity dispersal and dilution as feedback to the alkalinity generating system?

● What temporal and spatial scales are most critical to resolve to capture the OA mitigation?

● What limitations are imposed on the rate of OAE by the seawater mixing, local regulations, and ecosystem tolerances for elevated alkalinity and pH?

● How does the performance of this OAE approach vary when simulating tie-in with intermittent renewable energy sources with battery back up?

● How cost effective is the approach in this field trial?

Nick Ward
Nick Ward
Senior Research Scientist, Affiliate Asst. Professor