Nov 8, 2023 - Technology

A new carbon removal partnership sprouts up north

Illustration of two hands shaking, with one person's jacket golden cufflinks spelling CO2.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The startup Equatic and Canadian developer Deep Sky are partnering to demo seawater-based carbon removal that also makes hydrogen.

Why it matters: It shows expanding efforts to bring nascent ways of pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere closer to commercial readiness.

Driving the news: Deep Sky is buying a small Equatic plant for use at a Quebec site that's piloting tech from multiple firms.

  • The Equatic pilot will have 365 tons of annual removal capacity.
  • But they hope to demonstrate potential for greater than 100,000-ton-scale commercial deployments.

How it works: Equatic's tech passes electrical current obtained via renewables — in this case hydropower — through seawater.

  • This electrolysis process splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Then atmospheric air is passed through the water, trapping CO2 in minerals and as dissolved substances naturally found in the oceans, Equatic says.
  • "The CO2-depleted seawater is 'refilled' by bubbling air through it — the process thereby removes CO2 directly from the atmosphere," a primer states.

Of note: The company says their process restores the water's natural alkaline balance, and that removal can be carefully tracked.

Catch up fast: Equatic has raised over $30 million, has pilots in L.A. and Singapore, and a preliminary removal deal with Boeing.

  • Deep Sky, whose backers include Quebec's sovereign wealth fund, was founded in September 2022.
  • It announced a $10 million seed round in May. An ongoing Series A raise is targeting $50 million-$75 million.

The bottom line: Scaling removal is hardly a given, but more entrepreneurs — and deep pockets — are getting involved.

  • "Equatic's unique electrolysis process enables the oceans to play a major part in averting climate catastrophe," Deep Sky CEO Damien Steel said in a statement.
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