We build on foundational research.
Limiting Global Warming and CO₂ Reduction
Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V.,et.al]. Cambridge University Press. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/#FullReport
Human activities, primarily those that involve the burning of fossil fuels that release CO₂, have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere and have warmed the planet 1. By the decade 2006–2015, human activities have warmed the Earth by 0.87°C (±0.12°C) compared to pre-industrial times (1850–1900) 2. If the current warming rate continues, the world will reach human-induced global warming of 1.5°C around 2040 (see figure below). To reduce the impacts of climate change associated with warming the planet, we must both limit CO₂ emissions and remove CO₂ from the atmosphere. Technologies under development at Running Tide are constructed to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere, to enable strategies to limit global warming to 1.5°C (a.k.a., 1.5°C-consistent pathways).
Carbon Dioxide Removal Technologies
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies are currently being explored to draw down anthropogenic CO₂ to pre-industrial levels, with the intention to rapidly stabilize global temperatures. If global temperature rise temporarily overshoots 1.5°C in 2040, CDR will be required to reduce CO₂ to bring global temperature back down 4. To achieve such a global temperature reduction, the amount of CO₂ drawn out of the atmosphere must be greater than the amount entering the atmosphere. Not all greenhouse gas emission sources entering the atmosphere can be eliminated from all economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, transport, power, etc.) exclusively through emissions reductions. Therefore, exploring and deploying CDR technologies is considered an essential component of strategies to achieve net-zero CO₂ emissions.
At Running Tide, we innovate environmentally-compatible CDR technologies that may serve to enable the achievement of specific climate goals (e.g., The Paris Agreement 5 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C). We use engineering and analytics to apply foundational ocean science research and ultimately remove CO₂. Our operations fill critical knowledge gaps in how natural CDR processes operate, how they can be enhanced through technology, and how such processes can be scaled to meet net-zero carbon targets 6.
Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal
CO₂ in the atmosphere and CO₂ in the sea are constantly exchanging 7. As human-derived CO₂ emissions have risen, the ocean surface has become a reservoir that absorbs and stores the atmosphere’s CO₂ via physical and biological means (i.e., biological pump). Evidence suggests that the natural ocean uptake of human-derived CO₂ is primarily a physical response of increased atmospheric CO₂ that diffuses into the sea. Removing carbon from the surface of the ocean accelerates the rate at which the ocean can absorb human-derived CO₂ from the atmosphere.
As the Earth’s carbon cycle is intricately nested within the physical climate, biological organisms (e.g., phytoplankton) at the sea surface convert CO₂ into carbon that is used to fuel their own growth and reproduction. As carbon moves through the ocean’s food web (i.e., the biological pump), the carbon in those organisms is transported to deeper ocean where it stays for hundreds to thousands of years. If the carbon makes it to the bottom of the ocean, it can be stored for time scales on the order of millions of years.
Role of Microforests in Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal
According to a recent report published by the National Academies of Engineering, Science and Medicine 8, “the process of producing macrophyte organic carbon biomass via photosynthesis and transporting that carbon into a carbon reservoir removes CO₂ from the upper ocean… (this process) can act as a CDR approach by transporting organic carbon to the deep sea or into sediments.”
Running Tide’s microforests are a dematerialized application of large scale macroalgae farming. Macroalgae farming typically occurs in coastal environments, but Running Tide microforests are free-floating in open-ocean currents. Furthermore, Running Tide microforests use carbon-containing waste products as growth substrates which are affixed to, or may themselves be, a flotation designed to lose buoyancy after the predefined growth interval. Microforests are an operationally attainable approach to scaling ocean carbon dioxide removal. Also from the report mentioned above, it is believed that macroalgae cultivation could scale up to 1 gigaton of CO₂ removal per year.