Canada set for world’s largest offshore carbon capture project

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Direct Ocean Capture pilot facility planned for Quebec to capitalise on high carbon density of oceans compared to air. 

Canada is poised to become a leader in a new climate solution that removes carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the ocean. Captura, an L.A.-based Direct Ocean Capture (DOC) company founded at Caltech, and Deep Sky, a Montreal-based venture dedicated to commercialising carbon removal and storage solutions at scale, are partnering to deploy DOC facilities in Canada.

The two partners have started with proposals for a pilot demonstration of the technology that will capture 100 tons of COannually. Once operational and if successful, the partners plan to then build facilities to capture up to one millions tons annually.

The Captura pilot system will be located in Eastern Quebec in 2024 and will be powered by the region’s strong renewable hydroelectric energy capacity. It aims to validate the technology for commercial deployment in Canada, following successful demonstrations of the technology in California as part of Captura’s scale-up programme. Those demonstration projects include a one ton per year system that has been operating at Newport Beach since August 2022, and a 100 ton per year system that is running end-to-end in the company’s lab.

Captura’s CEO, Steve Oldham, explained why Canada is the right place to pilot the technology for commercialisation: “Eastern Canada provides an ideal location for deployment of Captura’s technology. It has abundant renewable energy to power the system, a skilled workforce from the region’s oil and gas sector that has the expertise to build and operate DOC systems, and significant sequestration potential to permanently store the CO2.”

Both Direct Air Capture (DAC) and DOC technologies are a focus for Deep Sky due to their scalability and measurability. Both solutions remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere or ocean and deliver it as a measurable stream that can be permanently and safely sequestered.

Deep Sky founder Fred Lalonde explained “Climate change is the biggest existential threat to humankind. Wildfires, global droughts, and record hurricanes are just the beginning. We’re serious about building large-scale carbon removal infrastructure to save our planet, and Captura’s scalable, durable and measurable technology stood out as a clear choice for Deep Sky’s first official technology partnership.”

Why ocean capture? 

While carbon capture and storage has struggled to demonstrate success over several decades, there is still a hope that breakthroughs could see it grow into a valuable asset for tackling carbon from sectors of the economy that are challenging to decarbonise directly.

Ocean capture might be one path to doing that. The oceans are vast carbon sinks, absorbing approximately 30 percent of global CO2 emissions, and CO2 is 150 times more concentrated in the oceans than the atmosphere. As a result, Captura’s DOC solution uses renewable energy and electrodialysis technology to capture CO2 directly from seawater as it passes through the plant at what it hopes will become an economically efficient scale.

When the CO2-depleted seawater is returned to the ocean, that water has the capacity to absorb the same quantity of CO2 from the air that was originally removed, thus reducing carbon in the atmosphere.

Captura’s process has been specifically designed to create minimal to zero impacts on the ocean ecosystem. Indeed, If deployed in localised bays and inlets, it has the potential to help counteract ocean acidification, which is causing devastating impacts to marine ecosystems and ocean-dependent communities.