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UCLA and PUB Partner to Build World's Largest Ocean-Based Carbon Removal Plant in Singapore, Supporting Net Zero Goals

UCLA and PUB Partner to Build World's Largest Ocean-Based Carbon Removal Plant in Singapore, Supporting Net Zero Goals
Source: https://samueli.ucla.edu/ucla-institute-for-carbon-management-and-equatic-to-build-the-worlds-largest-ocean-based-carbon-removal-plant-in-singapore/

After the successful operation of two pilot plants in Los Angeles and Singapore, UCLA and its startup Equatic are embarking on a groundbreaking endeavor: the construction of the world's largest ocean-based carbon dioxide removal plant in Singapore. This ambitious project, named "Equatic-1," is supported by Singapore's national water agency PUB, the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore, and UCLA's Institute for Carbon Management (ICM). With a budget of $20 million, Equatic-1 aims to revolutionize carbon removal technology and significantly contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.

Over the next 18 months, a collaborative team comprising researchers and technology-scaling experts from ICM and Equatic will undertake the construction of Equatic-1 at PUB's research and development facility in Tuas, Singapore. This multi-phase project will utilize cutting-edge technology to remove carbon dioxide from seawater and the atmosphere on an unprecedented scale. Equatic's existing plant in Singapore, which was piloted at a modest 0.1 metric ton of carbon dioxide removal per day, has already demonstrated its effectiveness. Equatic-1 will be constructed in two phases, with the first phase set to begin in March. By late 2024, Phase 1 aims to remove 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide per day. Subsequently, nine additional modules will be installed in early 2025 to complete Phase 2. Once fully operational, Equatic-1 will be capable of removing a staggering 10 metric tons of CO2 per day, marking a significant advancement over the pilot project.

The innovative technology developed by Equatic activates and enhances the ocean's natural carbon storage capacity by removing dissolved CO2 from seawater. Through electrolysis, an electrical current is passed through seawater obtained from adjacent desalination plants operated by PUB, triggering chemical reactions that separate water into hydrogen and oxygen components. Simultaneously, the process securely stores both dissolved and atmospheric carbon dioxide in the form of solid calcium and magnesium-based materials, ensuring long-term carbon sequestration.

Equatic's co-founder and ICM director, Gaurav Sant, expressed gratitude for the support received from PUB and NRF, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in addressing climate change. Sant highlighted the significance of scaling carbon removal solutions, underscoring the need for bold partners committed to achieving measurable success. Equatic-1's impact on carbon reduction is significant, with the potential to remove as much carbon dioxide as nearly 850 individuals emit annually. Once Equatic-1 meets its carbon removal goals, Equatic plans to establish commercial plants capable of capturing approximately 110,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, further contributing to global emission reduction efforts.

PUB, Singapore's national water agency, has set ambitious targets to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045. Collaborating with UCLA and Equatic aligns with PUB's strategy to replace, reduce, and remove carbon emissions. Chee Meng Pang, PUB's chief engineering and technology officer, highlighted the importance of technological advancements in addressing climate challenges, emphasizing the agency's commitment to partnerships with academia and the private sector. Equatic-1's modular design facilitates systematic expansion, minimizing risks associated with scaling technology innovation. Additionally, selective anodes developed with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's ARPA-E enable oxygen production while eliminating unwanted byproducts, paving the way for carbon dioxide removal at a gigaton scale.

The project's success relies on collaboration and innovation, as Equatic co-founder Dante Simonetti explained. Critical performance data from the pilot plant informed the design and engineering of Equatic-1, guiding the project's trajectory towards scalability and commercial viability.

Equatic's pioneering technology has garnered recognition, earning accolades from TIME and Popular Science. The project's success is made possible by the support of various organizations, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, and Boeing.

As Equatic-1 takes shape in Singapore, it represents a significant milestone in the fight against climate change. With the potential to revolutionize carbon removal technology, Equatic-1 offers hope for a more sustainable future.