The ocean is the unsung hero of climate change, but humanity has pushed it to its limits. For millions of years, the ocean has naturally soaked up excess atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). However with the rise of human emissions, gigatons of CO2 have dissolved into the ocean and made it more acidic, jeopardizing marine life. But, it is not too late to turn things around. In addition to cutting carbon dioxide emissions as quickly as possible, new technologies can help clean up gigatons of CO2 that humans have already pumped into the air, and reduce ocean acidity.
That’s why we’ve launched Ebb Carbon. We’re a team of leading scientists, engineers, and seasoned climate tech entrepreneurs who collectively have over six decades of experience developing and scaling clean technologies at SolarCity, Tesla and X (formerly known as Google X). Together, we’re commercializing an electrochemical approach to ocean-based carbon removal that has the potential to be one of the largest scale and lowest cost paths to removing excess carbon dioxide from the air. Our approach also reduces ocean acidity and restores ocean chemistry—helping to heal the ocean while cleaning up the atmosphere.
Today, we’re excited to announce our first customer, Stripe, which has committed to purchasing $1.5 million of carbon removal as part of their Climate Program. The first Ebb Carbon system will be deployed in 2022 with additional units to follow in 2023, each with an ability to draw down 200 tons (CO2)/year to start. More companies like Stripe are committed to removing more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit to limit planetary warming, and we hope to serve this growing market with a new, high-quality source of ocean-based carbon dioxide removal.
About Ebb Carbon
Ebb’s journey started with an insight: accelerating the ocean’s natural process for sequestering CO2, the oceanic carbon cycle, might hold the key to safely sequestering gigatons of carbon dioxide from the air. The ocean naturally sequesters atmospheric CO2 as oceanic bicarbonate. Bicarbonate is safe, stable and naturally abundant: there is 45 times more carbon in the form of oceanic bicarbonate than there is in all of the atmosphere. Using electrochemistry to separate the salt and water molecules in seawater into acid and base solutions could be used to store additional carbon dioxide from the air as oceanic bicarbonate and remove acid from the ocean.
How it works
Ebb Carbon intercepts salty water from facilities that process seawater (like desalination plants, salt producers or aquaculture facilities) and uses electrochemistry powered by low-carbon electricity to separate this salty water into two solutions: a base (sodium hydroxide - NaOH); and an acid (hydrochloric acid- HCl).
The acidic solution is prevented from returning to the ocean and provides a low-carbon, low-cost source of hydrochloric acid that can be used for a range of existing industrial purposes. The basic solution (sodium hydroxide - NaOH) is returned to the ocean, enhancing the ocean’s ability to draw down more atmospheric CO2. When NaOH is added to seawater, it reacts with CO2 from the air to form bicarbonate -- without releasing hydrogen (H+) ions that would otherwise increase the ocean’s acidity.
Ebb’s system controls how much acid is separated and how much base is returned to the ocean, to verify the amount of CO2 drawdown and bicarbonate produced. We also limit the change in pH at the point where the base is reintroduced into the ocean so that it is well within the natural variance of ocean pH seasonally at that location.
Help us turn the tide on climate change
Ebb’s approach taps into the oceans’ natural processes for capturing and storing carbon and is less energy-intensive than other forms of carbon removal that require additional processes to capture, transport and store the carbon. This results in a lower cost per unit of CO2 removal at scale and we expect to achieve costs below $100/t(CO2) within 5 years. Ebb’s system is built with modular elements like electrochemical membrane stacks inside shipping containers that are factory manufacturable, and economically efficient at both small and large scale.
Although it’s early in our journey, we’re excited about the potential for Ebb and our customers like Stripe to make an impact on climate change. But we can’t commercialize this technology alone. If you’re passionate about the potential of new technology to help us fight climate change, please get in touch. In particular, we’d love to hear from:
Engineers who have experience building and scaling new technologies and are passionate about our opportunity and approach to tackling climate change. If you know anyone who fits the bill, have them apply here.
Potential partners that process saltwater flows, are located near low-carbon energy sources, and are interested in hosting an Ebb Carbon system.
We hope you’ll follow along, or maybe even join us, as we work to help restore the ocean and make our planet healthier for future generations to enjoy.