Offshore Cleaning

Preview image of “Offshore Cleaning”
  • Visualization of Captura's offshore facility
  • Photo: Captura Corporation

An American startup harnesses the ocean, the Earth’s largest natural CO2 absorber.

There are several technological approaches to utilize oceans for removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The startup Captura, a spinoff of Caltech University, aims to bring its self-developed technology called Direct Ocean Capture (DOC) to market readiness in 2023 through an offshore project.

Founded in 2021, the company has developed a process that operates with minimal environmental impact, relying solely on renewable electricity and seawater as input resources. Captura utilizes the ocean’s natural capacity to absorb CO2 in order to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The facility draws in filtered seawater and treats it to reduce the CO2 content. The desalinated water remains in the ocean and reacts with the atmosphere, leading to CO2 degradation. Without this technology, the increasing absorption of CO2 by the ocean would result in acidification, as it already absorbs 30% of global emissions. The process involves treating seawater with renewable electricity to remove CO2.

What sets Captura’s solution apart is its omission of specialized air contactors, absorbents, and byproducts, enabling cost-effective CO2 removal on a large scale. The company promises high scalability of its method through lower capital and operational costs, as well as the avoidance of precious or rare earths for utilization.

An initial pilot project in Newport Beach, California, allowed the team to measure the system’s performance and introduce improvements. In 2023, Captura plans to unveil an offshore system that will increase the capacity of the test setup by a factor of 100. The company is backed by influential investors such as Equinor Ventures, Future Planet Capital, and Aramco Ventures, and has already received recognition with the XPrize from the Musk Foundation.