Combating Climate Change: Scientists explore the possibility of pulling carbon out of oceans

Lacey Abdela '26, Staff Writer

Photo via: MIT News

Climate change is causing the Earth’s temperature to increase daily at an alarming rate. This is harmful to the environment in many ways. Animals are losing their habitats, water levels are rising, and the planet is deteriorating overall.  Carbon dioxide, which is released from fossil fuels, is a huge contributor to this problem and scientists have long been looking for the most efficient solution. While they usually focus on taking carbon out of the air, the idea of taking it out of the oceans is now being explored.

Oceans capture 30-40% of the Earth’s carbon, making them the Earth’s largest carbon sink. The carbon in oceans is also much denser than the carbon found in the air, allowing the volumes of material to be smaller when capturing carbon from the ocean. Due to the large amount of carbon and the limited material needed, capturing carbon from the ocean is much more efficient and effective. 

  One of the organizations workshopping this solution is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They have constructed a two-step electrochemical process. First, electricity acidifies the water temporarily. Then the carbon dioxide is collected as a gas by a vacuum and the water goes back to normal. This solution is very cost-efficient, allowing regular merchant ships, aquaculture farms, and offshore drilling platforms to participate in carbon collection. It’s particularly beneficial to areas with economies built on tourism and fishing since the increasing temperatures of the waters affect them greatly. 

Once the carbon is drawn out from the oceans, most of it will go to underground geologic storage areas. It could also be made into products like concrete or fuel like ethanol. 

Captura Corp. is another company that has been successful in drawing carbon outside of the ocean using their plant in Newport Beach, California. Their process is more expensive, using electrolysis and membranes to draw the carbon out of the Pacific Ocean. MIT’s effort is still in development and plans to be as successful at removing carbon dioxide from the ocean as Captura Corp.