A new research team is working on direct air capture innovation and investigating how to permanently and safely stores CO2 into the ocean floor. It is called Solid Carbon and wants to use renewable energy, direct air capture, and traditional oil drilling technology to store captured CO2 in a solid form, deep under the ocean floor in the Cascadia Basin about 300 kilometers off the coast of Vancouver Island.
Ultimately, the project aims to build a floating direct air capture system that would be powered by wind and solar power to capture and sequester CO2 from the air.
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The Solid Carbon project marked a new milestone recently. A publication of a study by University of Calgary scientists demonstrates that the porous basalt in the Cascadia Basin is ideal for CO2 sequestration as any CO2 pumped into the basalt would be permanently sequestered.
The study confirms and supports Solid Carbon’s idea and mission. According to the research, carbon dioxide taken from the atmosphere and injected into the deep subseafloor off Vancouver Island may turn into solid rock in about 25 years.
“Through their modeling, they documented that, within a couple of decades, the CO2 would become rock and then there would be no need to monitor,” said Ocean Networks Canada president Kate Moran.
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Solid Carbon is led by Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), University of Victoria, and is funded by a PICS Theme Partnership grant from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, hosted and led by UVic.
According to Mrs. Moran, the project starting in 2025 or 2026, wants to begin with a demonstration or a trial injection of CO2. The site chosen is 300 kilometers off the coast of Vancouver Island as “it’s the best characterized basalt location on the planet,” adds Moran.
As the technology needed for the Solid Carbon project is already available, the only thing left is a value proposition or getting the price right so it becomes viable. Currently, direct air carbon capture is seen purely as an expense as it costs from $232 to $600 per ton of CO2 captured and stored.
“Our goal is to get the price down to the price of carbon that Canada has committed to by 2030, which is $170 per tonne,” explains Moran.
The team is looking into the 45Q incentive available in the US. As it doesn’t matter where the CO2 is sequestered, Mrs. Moran thinks it is possible a credit scheme could evolve that would help fund negative emissions projects like Solid Carbon.
The next step in front of the initiative, once an injection system is in place, is removing 500,000 tons of CO2 per year per, with the potential to scale up to 20 billion tons per year by 2100.