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This Startup Grows Kelp Then Sinks It to Pull Carbon from the Air

May 03, 2021   |   CNN

"One Maine-based startup, Running Tide Technologies, is experimenting with farming kelp, a type of seaweed, in an effort to pull carbon from the air and store it deep beneath the ocean floor, potentially giving the world another nature-based tool to curb climate change," reports CNN.

"Running Tide Founder Marty Odlin ['04, Thayer '07], a Dartmouth graduate and engineer whose family includes generations of fishermen, is working with a team of engineers, software developers, oceanographers, maritime professionals, data scientists and hatchery technicians to bury massive amounts of kelp at the bottom of the ocean. Odlin is aiming to 'restore and then accelerate that natural process' of seaweed soaking up carbon from the atmosphere, he told CNN Business.

"'Kelp is one of the fastest growing things in the world, so it pulls carbon in at the fastest rate of any species in the world,' Odlin said. From his uncle's re-purposed lobster boat, he and his team use ocean currents to move the kelp to deep water where it can be sunk. Gravity then puts the kelp under tremendous pressure as it sinks to the deep ocean.

The seeds are grown in a hatchery, and once matured, the team puts the kelp into biodegradable buoys. As it grows, the plant eventually becomes too heavy for the buoy and sinks to the bottom of the ocean where the massive water pressure pushes it into the sea floor. 'After the kelp grows, the biodegradable buoy will dissolve and lose its buoyancy and everything will sink to the ocean bottom,' Oldin told CNN. 'The ocean is a tremendous natural carbon sink,' he added.

      But this is no simple task, he acknowledges. 'The intentional removal of eight hundred gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere will probably be the biggest engineering challenge in human history,' Odlin said. 'It's essentially running 150 years of the oil industry in reverse in 15 years.'"

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