• Tech Tech

Startup uses cutting-edge technology to hack Earth's million-year cycle down to months: 'We're essentially accelerating a natural process'

This technology is part of a burgeoning field of carbon dioxide removal solutions.

This technology is part of a burgeoning field of carbon dioxide removal solutions.

Photo Credit: Ebb Carbon

Imagine your house filling up with trash because you forgot to take out the garbage. That's a bit like what's happening with Earth's atmosphere as we pump more and more carbon dioxide into it. 

Ebb Carbon, a startup based in California, has developed an innovative technology to help clean up this mess by using the ocean as a giant sponge to absorb excess carbon dioxide.

Carbon removal is important because our natural assets — like oceans, forests, soil, and mangroves, which are known as carbon sinks — are having a tough time keeping up with the increasing amount of carbon pollution that we are producing. 

This pollution acts like a blanket over the Earth, trapping heat and leading to more severe weather events, like droughts and hurricanes, which can then cause water and food shortages.

As reported by Canary Media, Ebb Carbon is testing a groundbreaking technology that uses seawater to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, offering a promising solution to combat Earth's overheating.

Ebb's technology uses electrochemistry to separate salty water into two parts: acid and alkaline. Then, it puts the alkaline part back into the ocean. This helps start a reaction that grabs carbon dioxide from the air and stores it in the sea, while the extracted acid is kept on land and used for other purposes, according to the media outlet.

"We're essentially accelerating a natural process. So instead of taking millions of years [to happen], it takes weeks to months," said Ben Tarbell, CEO and co-founder of Ebb Carbon, per Canary Media.

The startup recently unveiled its first-of-its-kind demonstration project in Washington state, at the Sequim Bay facility, which is designed to remove about 100 tons of carbon dioxide per year at full capacity. 

Partnering with research institutions such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Washington, Ebb Carbon is working to better predict how its system could work at scale and its potential effects on ocean ecosystems.

Ocean-based carbon-removal strategies are gaining traction in the fight against global heating. While countries prioritize reducing planet-warming pollution, it's widely acknowledged that these steps alone won't be enough to avoid the worst effects of temperature increases on the planet, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Ebb Carbon's technology is part of a burgeoning field of carbon dioxide removal solutions. Other companies and researchers are exploring various methods, such as giant air filters, injecting "bio-oil" underground, and ocean-based systems to draw down planet-warming carbon. 

Ocean-based approaches like Ebb Carbon's hold significant promise, as the NOAA says oceans have absorbed roughly 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released by humans since the Industrial Revolution. However, this has also led to ocean acidification — an increase in the acidity of ocean water, which causes its own problems.

Ebb Carbon's system represents a significant step forward in carbon-removal technology. By harnessing the ocean's natural processes, the company's innovative approach could play a crucial role in curbing planet-overheating gas pollution.

Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.

Cool Divider