Singapore is planning to expand a pilot project aimed at enhancing the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as scientists and environmentalists call for more research into ocean carbon dioxide removal (OCDR) technologies, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Singapore’s national water agency, PUB, has developed a pioneering plant that utilizes electricity to extract CO2 from seawater, a process that enables the ocean to absorb more greenhouse gas when the treated seawater is reintroduced into it.
The project, located at the Tuas Desalination Plant in western Singapore, currently extracts 100 kilograms (approx. 220 pounds) of CO2 daily using technology developed by Los Angeles-based ocean carbon removal startup Equatic.
The system at the plant involves seawater passing through an electrolyser, where dissolved CO2 is transformed into calcium carbonate, simultaneously producing hydrogen as a byproduct.
PUB intends to secure funding for the construction of a demonstration plant with a daily capacity of 10 tons by the year’s end, and is also considering further expansion of this pioneering initiative, Gurdev Singh, a general manager at the agency who leads the project, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has underscored the significance of removing CO2 from the atmosphere alongside emissions reductions to combat rising temperatures.
OCDR has been hailed as an “unsung hero” in the fight against global warming by some environmental groups; however, uncertainties remain regarding the feasibility of deploying these emerging technologies at a large scale.
Gaurav Sant, the founder of Equatic, highlighted the commercial potential of the technology, pointing to the fact that it simultaneously provides two main products: carbon credits and hydrogen, as well as calcium carbonate which can also be used to generate profit by supplying it to the local construction industry.
Experts have cautioned about the unknown ecological impact of these technologies. Over 200 scientists issued an open letter this week, emphasizing the need to prioritize OCDR research to maximize benefits while mitigating potential risks.