Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Tucson

Repairing the Planet’s Lungs

Repairing the Planet’s Lungs

Artem Pachkovskyi/

The oceans, sometimes called the lungs of the Earth, have absorbed 30 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since the Industrial Revolution and captured 90 percent of the related excess heat. Seawater stores about 150 times more CO2 than air. Unfortunately, absorbing all that greenhouse gas has damaged sea life.

Engineers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a process to cleanse the seawater of CO2 so it can store greater amounts of greenhouse gases. The process sends an electric charge into seawater flowing through tanks on a barge. The charge sets off chemical reactions to trap the greenhouse gas into a solid mineral, which is then deposited on the ocean floor, completing the cleansing process.

The engineers expect to design larger facilities based on the data obtained from their test sites in Los Angeles and Singapore and have commercial sites removing millions of tons of CO2 per year by 2025. The UCLA scientists estimate that 1,800 facilities would be needed to capture 10 billion tons of atmospheric CO2 annually beginning in 2050, thereby limiting the global temperature risk to 1.5 degrees Celsius.