The best thing to do to prevent climate change is to stop burning fossil fuels, until that happens we need to find ways to extract carbon from the air to reduce the speed of climate change. Of course, carbon removal needs to be powered by renewable systems themselves. The XPrize for carbon removal kicked off in February, part of that launch involved a competition for universities to apply for funding radical carbon removal ideas. The winners have been announced and the projects are looking at everything from cleaning up asbestos to making a tea out of yard waste.
The Blue Symbiosis team from Australia’s University of Tasmania is looking to tap into the natural CO2-absorbing properties of seaweed, by repurposing oil and gas rigs as regenerative farming sites. The offshore platforms provide the trunk, while the seaweed will act as the branches, according to the team. The team aims to scale up production to the point where the system can have a real impact on ocean health, with part of the seaweed to also be used in construction materials such as fire-resilient bricks, enabling the carbon being stored to be quantified.
“I researched the potential of repurposing oil and gas infrastructure to regenerative seaweed sites, which led to the conclusion that this holds real promise for both environmental and commercial reasons,” says team leader Joshua Castle. “Decommissioning oil and gas infrastructure is an emerging AU$60-billion (US$44-billion) problem for governments and industries in which they are expected to share the costs. Seaweed has the potential to deliver vast environmental benefits for ocean health – but if it can’t be scaled, significant impacts on ocean health can’t be realized.