Nov. 25, 2021

UCalgary research team poised to develop large-scale marine carbon dioxide removal technology

$100K research fund will aid pilot project aimed at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
Anna-Maria Hubert
Anna-Maria Hubert

A transdisciplinary research team from the University of Calgary has received $100,000 from the Scotiabank Net Zero Research Fund to put toward their carbon dioxide removal (CDR) pilot. The PEACH (Practical Electrochemical Air Capture) team made up of chemists, engineers, legal scholars, and geoscientists including professor Dr. Stephen Larter, PhD, will use the funding to assess feasible approaches to CDR in marine regions.

They are focused on development and assessment of a new technology that could store atmospheric carbon long-term as bicarbonate in the ocean. The two-year project, which is now in technology development phase, introduces a novel approach to safely change near-surface seawater chemistry to promote natural uptake of carbon dioxide in the ocean.The team recognizes the importance of developing a platform while maintaining viable biospheres in the marine environment, aiming to develop their approach while maintaining the health and well-being of marine ecosystems. The project will consider everything from technical scaling to marine governance and policy in terms of CDR approaches.

“Our diverse team is committed to developing and assessing climate solutions on a global scale, in ways that safely amplify natural geochemical processes of carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere,” says Larter. “A project such as ours is not only a technical challenge but it also has to be environmentally sound and socially desirable.”

Recognizing this need for socially desirable solutions to climate change, professor Anna-Maria Hubert is a key part of the PEACH team, researching and advising on social policy, governance, and legal parameters. As a legal scholar with a background in international and environmental law, Hubert’s work is concerned with how law and governance can develop to respond to emerging science and technologies.

In terms of climate technologies, she is focused on contributing to the growing need for innovative technological solutions to help society achieve a more sustainable future. She brings this expertise to the PEACH team by guiding development of the technologies with ocean and societal responsibility at the forefront.

“CDR technologies raise significant governance concerns but could also play an important role in mitigating climate change,” says Hubert. “Our team’s process cannot just focus on technical feasibility but must also consider the broader social and environmental factors which are key elements of the success of new technologies and research applications down the line.”

The PEACH project relates to a class of carbon capture technologies which aim to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store for longer periods of time on a geological scale, working in conjunction with emission reduction technologies and renewable energy technologies. CDR technologies like the approach the UCalgary team is taking are one piece of a developing global strategy for climate change mitigation.

The Scotiabank funding represents part of the financial institution’s self-proclaimed effort to combat climate change by supporting key sectors in their efforts to decarbonize. The UCalgary team is one of 11 groups to receive funding this year. Next year, Scotiabank plans to add an additional $1 million to their efforts through new grants facilitating additional net-zero research. The next call for submissions will begin in April 2022.