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27: Harnessing the Ocean's Might with Rose and Ruben from Sea02

While completing her PHD at the University of Delft in the Netherlands, Rose was inspired by immense potential of electrochemical oceanic carbon capture. Soon after she met Ruben, a serial entrepreneur and a business consultant for several major companies. By combining her academic background in oceanic carbon removal with his expert business experience, along with support from their third co-founder David Vermaas, SeaO2 was formed!


Sea02 is an oceanic carbon removal company based in the Netherlands. SeaO2's mission is to prevent global warming by reducing the CO2 concentration in the ocean and indirectly in the air. Their aim is to capture 1 Gigaton of CO2 by 2035, all while reducing ocean acidity and preserving biodiversity.


You can listen to this episode here:


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How does the ocean carbon cycle work?

The carbon cycle is the process of storage and exchange of carbon between different sources, including the air, ocean, and biosphere. In this cycle carbon can exist in several forms, and can alternate between forms through chemical and biochemical functions. Throughout this, the ocean acts as a natural sink and can absorb immense amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. (Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-carbon-cycle-607606)



What is oceanic carbon removal and why?

The ocean holds more carbon than any other part of the earth's biosphere, making it a highly accessible zone for carbon removal. Oceanic carbon removal can occur through several technologies including nature based solutions such as the cultivation of microalgae populations and the restoration of living blue carbon, or more technical solutions, such as ocean alkalinity enhancement and electrochemical removal. The removal of oceanic carbon allows for additional atmospheric carbon to sink into the ocean, causing a reduction in overall atmospheric carbon levels! (Source: https://oceanvisions.org/ocean-based-carbon-dioxide-removal/)


How does electrochemical oceanic carbon removal work?

Electrochemical oceanic carbon removal is a rising technology in the CDR industry! Check out the video below to learn more about how this process works:

(Source: ClimateWorks)


What does SeaO2 do?

SeaO2 technology uses the natural flow of the ocean water through the capture plant to treat and remove the CO2. The decarbonized water is returned to the ocean's surface layer so it can absorb more atmospheric CO2. The carbon plant is compact and can be plugged into existing ocean infrastructure. After capturing and storing the carbon, SeaO2 sells carbon credits to companies to help compensate irreducible emissions. (Source: https://www.seao2.nl/technology)



In this episode we address the following questions:

  • How did you meet and how did you get started on this idea? 2:40

  • Can you explain what SeaO2 does? 4:00

  • How do you capture and transfer the CO2? 5:47

  • What is the status of your current prototype? 6:20

  • How does that technology actually look like? 7:33

  • What is the size of the device? 10:00

  • How does the CO2 Liquefying work? 11:15

  • What are other possibilities for use? 12:19

  • What are the key differences in carbon capture technologies? 14:15

  • How many devices do you need to remove 1 gigaton? 15:45

  • What is the cost per tonnage of CO2? 17:00

  • What are the downsides compared to other CO2 capture technologies? 17:40

  • Why is it so difficult to measure the amount captured in the ocean compared to the land? 19:30

  • Can you explain the oceanic carbon cycle? 21:08

  • What are the pros and cons of other sea carbon technologies? 25:00

  • Is there any negative impact on living organisms? 27:50

  • How far are you in development? 30:50

  • How are you financed? 33:27

  • Does SeaO2 own the technology? 35:40

  • What regulatory considerations do you need for SeaO2? 36:30

  • What have you learned the most in your companies journey so far? 39:25

  • What makes you confident that we will solve the climate crisis? 42:00

  • How can people get in touch with you? 44:00


Memorable quotes from the episode by Rose and Ruben:

"To reach net zero, the most important thing is to remove CO2 from the surface of the ocean. Basically reversing the oil and gas process."


"The ocean has 150x more Co2 inside of it than compared to the air."

"I’ve wondered if science has the answer [to the climate crisis]. In the last year i’ve realized that science does have the answer but it takes more than that. A huge infrastructure is needed. There is a whole movement that needs to happen hand in hand to bring us to net zero goals."


"We have to go fast to manage the climate crisis."

"For deep tech you need deep pockets. But also creativity, determination, and you have to be a little bit crazy to scale up this technology."

"There is so much happening, everyone is working on different solutions of solving the climate crisis."

"I am confident that we can solve the climate crisis with technology, because we caused it ourselves with technology. If we caused the problem then we must be smart enough to solve it."


Website: https://www.seao2.nl

Contact: ruben@SeaO2.nl


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Transcript based on AI and beta- status:

Narrator:0:01

You are listening to Sustain Now. In this podcast, you will learn from successful entrepreneurs and scientists about the newest climate change solutions to address the climate crisis, from food and agri-tech over energy material innovation to circular economy. This nonprofit podcast is hosted by Frederica. She is a tech entrepreneur and climate enthusiast. You can find show notes and background information on wwwSustainNowch. Enjoy the show.

Friderike:0:35

In today's episode I'm speaking with Rose Scharrivian and Ruben Brands. Rose is CTO and co-founder of the CDR Startup, co2. She's a chemical engineer and petroleum engineer by training who has researched for the last five years the electrochemical oceanic carbon capture during her PhD at the University of 12 Netherlands. My second interview partner is Ruben Brands, ceo and co-founder of CO2. He previously founded startups and consulted for major corporations on lean initiatives. Three years ago, motivated by the urgency of climate change, he was researching different technology solutions and met Rose on his journey. Co2 is an ocean-based carbon removal company with a mission to protect our planet from getting warmer and warmer by reducing the CO2 concentration in the ocean and, indirectly, in the air. They would like to capture 1 gigaton of CO2 by 2035. In this episode, you will learn about the different ocean-based carbon removal methods, nature and tech-based the technology of CO2, the challenges of scaling a company on water and why ocean-based carbon removal is much more efficient than direct air capture. Today we have Ruben and Rose from CO2. This time I pronounce it right, because we just had a conversation beforehand. How do you pronounce that name correctly? I think it's a very cool name. I want to definitely know from the background how that got started From CO2, joining me to discuss ocean-based carbon dioxide removal, a new subsection of the carbon removal market. Thank you so much for joining my podcast this day now.

Ruben:2:29

Thanks for the invitation, Kedrika.

Friderike:2:30

Thank you for having us. So let's get a bit of a background story. How did you both meet and how did you get started on the idea to capture carbon in the ocean?

Rose:2:41

Thank you very much. For me, it started around five years ago when I started doing my PhD at DELTH University of Technology in the Netherlands on the subject of electrochemical oceanic carbon capture. I studied this together with my supervisor, davies from Mass, and we published our data on scientific journals. Around the end of my PhD, we got a lot of questions from people asking hey, does this technology work on the larger scale? Is it a potential for the market? What are your plans from now on? So we already knew that there is a big movement coming and close to the end of my PhD. We met with Ruben, who found us through one of these articles online, and with the three of us we thought this is an amazing time for, with an amazing idea, to go for a startup.

Ruben:3:30

Yeah, so it was for me three years ago. I was on the hunt for technology that could affect a meaningful solution to help address climate change and, given my business and legal background, I had to find engineers, smart people, right or who were working on technology to solve climate change. And then we met, like two years ago, in November 2021. And then after that, yeah, the rest is history. We are working full time now on CO2 and we have a team of nine committed people to work on CO2 and our technology.

Friderike:3:58

Fantastic. So you know we're all going to gather in an elevator. It's a classic question you usually get Get all getting together in an elevator. How do you explain what your company does in two to three minutes, sure.

Rose:4:11

Our company. We are a carbon capture company, cdr carbon dioxide removal. We use the ocean to filter the carbon dioxide in the air. Why? Because the ocean and the air are always in contact, so what goes in the atmosphere ends up in the ocean, and ocean is actually working as a huge absorbent of carbon dioxide. We remove carbon dioxide from the ocean. Therefore, we again rebalance the ocean pH so it has, it gains its capacity to capture more CO2 from the atmosphere. And what we do with the capture carbon dioxide is that we store it away underground or mineralized somewhere where it cannot come back to the atmosphere. This way, we not only help the climate change, but we also reduce the acidification in the ocean. And we do all this by using green electricity and sea water, no extra chemicals, no byproducts that are harmful. We don't change the ocean chemistry, we just remove the carbon dioxide from it and it comes across with the atmosphere again where it can again takes the CO2 in it.

Ruben:5:20

Yeah, so on the business side, it's also important to mention, I think so, what we do with the CO2, so we store it away or we utilize it, and the first business model of CO2 is that we store it away with third parties and then we get carbon credits for companies that want to offset the hard to a bit missions, right. And next to that, you can utilize the CO2 in various ways. So you can use it in the beverage industry, for synthetic fuels, in the plastics industry. Greenhouses need CO2, right, those are the products that we deliver to the market.

Friderike:5:49

Okay, so you actually, you know you liquefy the CO2, you're capturing or you're transported in what? How do you do that? Like what's the CO2? How do you capture that CO2? Is it going to be, you know, liquefying it, or how do you transport it in the end, if you capture it?

Rose:6:05

Very good question. So the CO2 in the water is mainly in an ionic form. It's called the bicarbonate ion. It's a form of dissolved carbonic species. We change the pH of the sea water in a so-called pH swing technology, where we remove bicarbonate in the form of gaseous CO2. That gaseous CO2 needs to be purified and compressed for transportation in a form of liquid gas. After that it can be injected as a form of liquid gas or it can be just used as gaseous form if it is for beverages. Okay.

Friderike:6:39

So just to imagine that, so you know, I looked at the webpage and in the end I think you're right now building the first prototype. Is that correct? We?

Rose:6:48

already have our prototype at work. It's currently located at Afslau Dijk in the Netherlands. However, we are working towards our first pilot, so the prototype is there. We have shown that it works, but we want to go bigger scale.

Friderike:7:04

Okay, so how does it look like? So is it like a floating big boat and you have like, so I assumed like you're having some filtering system where you have to pump it through? Can you explain a little bit more, like to imagine it? How does it look like? How does it function, and how do you do actually take that CO2 purified while it's on the boat? Do you have to transport it before away? So just to get a feeling for it, how that technology actually looks like.

Rose:7:34

Sure, the technology is a compact, modular technology. You can think of it as a plug and play technology. For example, for the pilot, it's going to be in the form of a skids and a sea container where it can be plugged in to the grid to use electricity. And what then is also needed is the flow of seawater. For example, if the water is already being pumped close to the coast for cooling, then we can put our installation there. It's a compact installation. When seawater comes in, from one side, electricity is applied where acid and base are being produced, and then the end product is gaseous CO2. The beauty is that the heart of the system, so our main technological part, is the electrochemical stack, where the water and electricity needs to run the chemical reaction of CO2 removal. After that, it's a matter of CO2 cooling and compression. And compression and cooling of CO2 has been done for many, many years for beer industries, for pharmaceuticals, for greenhouse gases. So there is no risk there, because we already know how to handle CO2 gas.

Friderike:8:44

Okay, understood. And how does it look like? Like, how can I imagine it? Like? What's the size? Is it hanging at the coast? Is it like floating? How can I imagine it? How it's going to look like A very good question.

Rose:8:57

Right now it's at the coast, close where the seawater is there. The truth is, this technology can be done. We don't need the seawater. It can also be done with sweet water, with river, with brackish water, so that makes it very agile. Currently it's close to the coast. However, when you're fair with the technology, it can also be floating on a ship, where the ship captures the carbon dioxide and maybe already makes it into a methanol where it can be used as the fuel, or it can be located on an oil or gas platform offshore, especially because those platforms are already in contact with empty oil and gas reservoirs. This gives a new life, a new motive to all those offshore platforms, because then it becomes carbon capture and a storage right away under the platform. So it's very agile due to the fact that it's quite compact. It can be on a ship floating, or it can be next to an installation or desalination unit that already exists, or it can be offshore.

Friderike:10:00

Okay, and what's the design Like? Is it 10 meter, 20 meter, 50 meter? How do I imagine that?

Rose:10:07

Very good question. It's actually quite a small. So we have now our one ton CO2 per year prototype and it's basically the electrochemical stack. It's a small stack. It is a smaller than a TV, like all TVs that are quite thicker than current TVs. So for our pilots it is going to be a black box of less than one cubic meter side and the good thing is that, due to the geometry, it can just be a stack together. Inside this black box there are a lot of membranes that can be just next to each other like lasagnas, and therefore we have a very high surface area within a small volume.

Friderike:10:48

Okay, and you can actually purify it in liquid diet. How do you say that in English? I always don't know Lick, lick, lick.

Narrator:10:58

I never know.

Friderike:10:59

Yeah, thank you. That's such a difficult one it is. How do you do that? Can you do that as well? And that's more box, or is it an extra technology which you need to have in place? That is the extra part too.

Rose:11:11

In that box what happens is a conversion of bicarbonate ions into the soft CO2. So the CO2 is now ready to come out. It's very similar to when you add vinegar to a glass of Coca-Cola. The gas wants to come out, but now it has to also get a place to come out, and inside that the stack is very compact. It will not come across with atmosphere, so it cannot get come out. Therefore, we have another part after that electrochemical stack, when we allow the gas to expand out of the liquid. That's called the separation location, where we really separate the CO2 gas from the sea water stream. The result is a gas CO2 that is ready to go into the purification box and a decarbonized sea water stream that is actually ready to go back to the sea where it can again absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Friderike:12:03

Okay, okay, got it. So I understood now a little bit more like how it looks, like how it could work. The sole process. What are other applications? You just said it could be as well. You're a new carbon capture and storage for oil and gas. What are other possibility use cases for that?

Rose:12:22

So, first, to really read and to reach net zero, the most important thing is to remove carbon dioxide from the surface, basically reversing the oil and gas production. We produce all this oil and gas, we burn them, we created a lot of CO2 and now we have to go back reverse, putting CO2 where it belong, which is underground, away from atmosphere. That's the CCS. And if you ask about whether the users of carbon dioxide itself, after we reach net zero we are talking about in 10 to 20 years, where we will not produce any fossil fuels, but we still need carbon, carbon is a valuable product and carbon is present in carbon dioxide. So then carbon dioxide can be used as feedstock for making green fuels such as methanol, which can also be done electrochemically, so there is synergy there. It can also be done to make fertilizer, for example, calcium carbonate. It can also be used directly for food and beverages and for medicines, so it has all sorts of usages in the CCU. When it comes to utilization of carbon dioxide, okay so understood typical other.

Friderike:13:31

So let's say capturing carbon technologies, I think what is quite known as a DAC direct air capture. Here in Switzerland we have, of course, climeworks, which is quite famous in that sense. What are the key differences? So I've seen like a crazy goal you want to achieve. I think it was one gigaton I think I'm going to take it wrong One gigaton CO2 captured by 2035. That would be massively more than DAC promise to deliver. Can you tell us why is it so much more efficient and how do you exceed these targets and how do you manage to achieve these targets and is it possible till 2035?

Rose:14:11

Yes, First of all, I want to point out about the carbon emission that we have. Every year, we emit 40 gigatons of CO2. To reverse the climate crisis, we really do need to remove all the gigaton scale. When it comes to comparing direct air capture DAC with direct ocean capture we call DOC the main difference is the land use. Direct air capture has to be on land and it has to do with moving a large volume of air. When it comes to DOC, it can be offshore. You know more than 70% of the world is covered in water, so it is very viable to go large scale due to the fact that there is a lot of ocean and sea available. The second reason is that the ocean actually has 150 times more carbon dioxide in it compared to the air. It means we have a more concentrated stream, which makes it intrinsically more efficient to be captured thermodynamically. And the third thing is that for direct air capture, there always needs to be absorbent or absorbent chemical that they can lock CO2 in them, and normally after that locking happens, they heat up the medium and CO2 can come out again. However, the ocean is actually an absorbent by itself, so when we do dock, we don't need any extra chemical, nor do we need a absorption step, because that happens everywhere around the world. So we then only need to do disruptions or release of CO2, and because it's an electrochemical method, we can really target on an ionic level. So suddenly the whole medium doesn't need to be heat up. That's like waste, you know. It's like they're heating up a swimming pool or only heating up your feet that are in it. So it's a bit of a difference there, and that's why we believe that the dock has potential to reach a very huge scale. That being said, gigaton is very huge, so it means it's a very, very challenging step and it needs all hands on deck. How many boxes?

Friderike:16:15

of these TVs you just said before, do you need to have to actually reach that one gigaton?

Rose:16:21

Good question. I once did a calculation and I came to the realization that to reach one gigaton, if it is all to be in one location, we need to stack those TV size devices and reach almost to the volume of a standalone family house. So imagine the only standalone house. Yeah, so.

Friderike:16:42

I would have said like it's probably like a city, a city size or something, but it would be only like a.

Rose:16:48

okay, it's very compact, and it all has to do with the fact that only seawater has to be pumped in it. That being said, I do want to add that probably the best way to reach gigaton is to have a couple of megaton scale captures around the world, because we want to spread this also with direct capture. The key is spreading because the atmosphere and the water moves around the world. It's not something on dynamic, it moves around.

Friderike:17:15

Therefore, capture also needs to be, and what is, right now, the cost you're calculating per CO2 ton which you can capture out of it? What are the costs to do that?

Ruben:17:24

Yeah, maybe we don't elaborate or in the details the cost price of our tonnage, but we can give a range. And we made a deal with Klarna and World Foundation and they bought carbon credits at CO2 for 1800 euros a ton.

Friderike:17:36

Hmm, okay, so you're in the range of DAC actually.

Ruben:17:41

Okay.

Friderike:17:42

Okay, okay, interesting Good. So we talked about you know why is it so much more efficient Like what are the downside? Compared to DAC or other carbon capture technologies?

Rose:17:56

Very good question. Also, I think the main downside is the fact that we humans treat ocean as a big unknown. We prefer to be on land because then we can see what happens, and that reflects on an important topic called MRV, that is, measuring and monitoring, reporting and verification On the land. With direct air capture it's rather easy to see how much carbon dioxide is removed because it directly from atmosphere. Ocean capture means indirect atmosphere, so then an extra factor comes that says what happens to the treated water, where does it go? How long does it take to come across with the air. So that's probably the extra hair that we face for the MRV, and only that DAC already exists more than 10 years, so it's just more mature currently, whereas dock still needs to catch up, so it has a lower.

Ruben:18:45

TRL and I think also working with salt water as is challenges in itself. So that's also a challenge when you compare it with moving air.

Friderike:18:53

Okay, so when I understood you correctly. So what surprises me? Why is it easier to actually measure the CO2 capturing on land versus on the seaside? Because, in the end, if you purify it and if you liquidify it oh well, maybe at the end of this podcast I can say it you have actually a pretty clear form of CO2. Why is it then so much more difficult to actually show that this is capturing that amount, whereas, as the DAC, it's more difficult because ocean is a living thing.

Rose:19:27

There are a lot of microorganisms living in it that either produce or eat up carbon dioxide. Ocean has different layers. The attributes of surface layer is very different than deep layer, and these layers are also interchangeable. Co2 is absorbed in one location, when the water is cold at the poles, and then centuries later it's desorbed again when the water is heated up. So it's a moving thing with many layers and with a lot of things playing a role, whether it's wind or location, temperature or human activity and it's very difficult to really trace the treated water from a dark ocean capture. Where does that water go? Preferably we want it to stay on the surface, but to what extent is that correct? Then it needs extra engineering and ocean study to define the best locations to do that and to always make sure that the treated water come across with the atmosphere again, where it can indeed absorb the carbon dioxide.

Friderike:20:27

Okay, so I think that's a good topic to go into how that actually works. How does the ocean carbon cycle work? Maybe we can take a step back and think about how do right now the carbon cycle work and how is the ocean taking place? So maybe it will be a good way just to explain quickly how the dissolving works. I think at least what I learned it takes extremely long to dissolve CO2 from the atmosphere into the ocean and, as you said before, it's ocean is right now a huge storage from the past. So it's like you know the very long time past it's stored a lot of CO2. How does it work Like? Can you quickly explain how is the carbon cycle with the ocean work so we understand better how this CO2 goes into the ocean and goes out of the ocean?

Rose:21:19

Yes, carbon cycle is extremely important and ocean is very crucial in the whole cycle. It basically comes to maybe two main things. The first one is that the plant-like phytoplankton that are located in the ocean, especially in the surface of the ocean. They eat of CO2 and then they produce sugar, and the sugar is the feed of marine life. So all the other marine creatures feed on that. And when they die upon death, either the body will always sink to the bottom of the ocean and stay there sediment there become oil and gas in centuries or it will be dissolved back to the ocean, bringing the CO2 again in the ocean. So that's the effect of plants. The second one is the effect of the movement of the water. It's called upwelling and downwellings and normally water comes across with the atmosphere and it absorbs all the gases in the atmosphere, including CO2. That happens when the water is cold so close to the poles that happens the most and this water moves and turns and many centuries later it warms up again and upon warming up it becomes light. The density of cold water is higher than hot water, so when it absorbs CO2, it goes, sinks. However, it gradually warms up, warms up, comes to the surface where it can again release carbon dioxide, and it is good to notice, indeed, that only a small part of carbon dioxide that is absorbed by the ocean actually remains in the ocean. It is a very long time span, hundreds of years. We are talking, but it is always a release and absorption reaction that is going on in the carbon cycle and this makes it very important to a study. If we do today something to the ocean, what does it mean for the coming centuries to come? That's why I think our technology is very interesting, because we really remove the carbon dioxide and be a storied away, not in the ocean, but away in the geological matters, where it can never come across with the atmosphere again.

Friderike:23:25

So you would store it underground like a deep sea storage etc. What is right now as well Direct air capture companies you can car fix or whatever other companies to really store it underground permanently. That would be the storage part of the carbon removal.

Ruben:23:41

Yes, yeah, so we would work with third parties, right? So we don't store it ourselves. So for the first tonnage that we capture in the Netherlands can ship it to Carfix in Iceland and then they will store it for us, maybe Portos or Aramis. You heard of those projects in the Netherlands. Those are empty gas fields and you can inject the CO2 then on the ground the big industrial companies that are working with those projects. It's not available for startups yet, but maybe in the future then it's interesting also to provide our CO2 to them as well.

Friderike:24:12

Okay, so we talked about ocean-based carbon dioxide removal. One of your technologies is one of a few which are already existing. It would be great if you can just explain what other ocean CO2 removal technologies are existing. What do you see as pros and cons? We heard a lot about macro-LGs. Do you want to fertilize them to actually make sequester more carbon? But then maybe you're over-fertilizing the ocean. So there has been a lot of discussions around about there and it would be great if you can just give your opinion about what are the technologies out there. Where are they standing in a TRL level? What do you see as a potential as well to grow, and how does your technology fit in that too Sure.

Rose:25:01

The ocean CDR is very similar to land CDR because it also has two categories it has a nature-based category and it has the technological category. In the nature-based solutions in the water we have to do with blue carbon that's the common name a lot of people have heard of which has to do with storing carbon dioxide in the ecosystem of the water. Of course, seaweed, marine biomass, micro algae these are all nature-based. The thing about nature-based is that it works. However, it takes time and it has a limitation because we cannot control biology. Biology always finds its way and it comes in its own rules, and most of these nature-based solutions can only be done close to the coast, where the amount of nutrition is the highest. The other category is the technical category. The technical category we see a lot of ocean alkalinity enhancement technologies, where they normally add something to the ocean to increase its alkalinity and thereby increases capacity for absorbing CO2, absorbing and storing CO2. This can be adding an alkaline solution or an oliveine or iron to fertilizing the ocean. Then we have the direct removal, which means removal of carbon dioxide from the ocean using mainly electrochemistry, so using electricity to run the chemical reaction, and there's also things like artificial downwelling and upwelling when they basically follow a natural pattern of the ocean movement, but they leverage it in a way to make sure the CO2 that's absorbed goes deeper in the surface layer. So that's the main category. I believe in most of them, especially because the crisis of climate change does not have one single solution. We really need to study all of these methods. Probably at the end there will be a couple of them that have a higher promise and are actually scalable with minimum impact on the ecosystem, but we cannot afford to not do with them. We have to study it now because if even we give our best, it's still very challenging to reach net zero.

Friderike:27:14

Okay, Coming back to your solution, when you just said before, plankton is a typical, I think, what everyone knows. So if you think about doing a massive vacuum cleaner water vacuum cleaner where you filter the CO2 out it's kind of translating it how does it work with all the living organisms? You talked a little bit about the limitations already. Where it is, it's a living organism. It's also releasing CO2 again at one point the ocean. How do you see that? Has it any negative impact on the ocean or on the living species there, on the biodiversity? I think you already touched acidification, that this is actually not a problem, but is there any impact? And did you think about the ocean, if you're not talking about living organisms?

Rose:28:04

Very good question. Ocean is, of course, the home to many, many organisms. It's very important to consider that part. Theoretically, we don't take away anything from the ocean, nor do we add anything extra, so the salts stay intact, the alkalinity stay intact, so we don't increase the alkalinity. The only thing we remove is carbon dioxide and, based on the studies, carbon dioxide that we remove will be rebalanced again in the ocean within a couple of weeks, two months. So theoretically there will be not risk on the microorganism. However, these are models. That's why we really want to focus on getting data measurements in different years, in different months, to actually monitor it, and that's also why I said I'm not voting for a very big gigaton plant, because then the impact is very big with regards to the volume of water that will be treated. So it's best to really spread this, and if you spread, it can actually be very beneficial, because in locations such as locations that are more acidified, like Great Barrier Reef, you know the reef is dying and a lot of shells organisms are also having a lot of problems with acidification. So especially in those locations, it can be very interesting to locally rebalance the ocean and give a new life to the microorganism.

Friderike:29:27

So they can't get like plucked kind of way. Like you know, like when you suck all this water into it, it's like it can it be because of algae, dirt, plastic or whatever are floating around there. How is the maintenance of this? How do you maintenance that it's not getting plucked and cannot be used anymore?

Rose:29:48

Yes, very good question there. Of course, the filters have an impact on what comes in the plant and what remains, so there will be a filtration intact. However, we as humans do have a lot of information already on how to filter seawater. You know that we use seawater to make drinking water from and we also use seawater for cooling. So thousands and thousands cubic meter of water per second are being pumped as they speak and are being filtered. So we know a lot about what the effect of filtration will be. There are suitable locations and less suitable locations, so that needs to be studied before any plant is built. But we know a lot about it. That knowledge already exists more than decades for filtration.

Friderike:30:34

So how far are you right now? Like you mentioned, you have like a prototype and you want to do, like the first, a little bit more bigger scale. How far are you and when is like the first project on a bigger scale going to go live?

Rose:30:47

So normally we communicate in TRL, the technological readiness level. I must say it's a way to communicate where the technology is, but it doesn't say a lot because the TRL currently for us, because it has a TRL 5, which means we have shown this works also in real environment, meaning that we have shown this works using fresh water and not just synthetic watering. So that puts the TRL 5. However, in this technology, in addition to the electrochemical part, there are also a lot of other things happening Filtration, pumping, stripping of gas, compression, and they have all higher TRLs because, as humans, have been doing that for a longer time. So that's to answer. Our next step is going to construct our pilot plan. We are currently designing it. It's going to be built next year. It will have a capacity of 250 tons of CO2 per year, almost one ton of CO2 per day, and that's the pilot that we are also going to get some data with regards to the effect and MRV of the ocean that is treated. It's going to be located in the Netherlands and we will be starting operation mid-year 2024.

Friderike:32:05

Okay, so how besides that? So this is going to be the main focus, I guess, for the next three years, like getting a plant operating out there.

Ruben:32:15

Yeah, that's our pilot plan for next year, so we will deploy that early next year and in parallel we are already designing them and building the kilotone plant and we want to deploy that in 2025 already because we have to scale up fast and we think that we can deploy the pilot plant next year in the Netherlands, because the team is in the Netherlands, but a kilotone scale and bigger. We will do that in other countries where the electricity grid is green, 100% green, and storage capacity is abundant. So, for instance, Iceland you mentioned Iceland before Carfix is there as well and Norway is a really suitable place to do this.

Friderike:32:55

Oh yeah, it's a good point. So actually you need electricity, of course, because of the actualized electricity. So that's why you need to be either close to a patrol, what's it called like?

Ruben:33:09

Yeah in. Iceland. There's geothermal power right, so the grid in Iceland is 100% green.

Friderike:33:14

That's why it's as well. It needs to be close to the coast, because you need actually access.

Ruben:33:18

Yeah yeah, yeah. So three things Coast electricity storage capacity.

Friderike:33:23

Okay, got it. So we already talked about customers. One side is, of course, the CO2. Who wants to take that for chemical processes, for methanol, like all the different ones and you just mentioned before? You know, klarina isn't the one who would take the carbon credits as a kind of a pre-financing. Is that primarily how you get financed, or is there any other way you also get financed for it?

Ruben:33:51

No, we have some grants and subsidies from the Dutch government, for instance, and NWO. It's in the Netherlands, it's a funding organization for academic research and also spinning out companies of that academic research. So we're very lucky to have that in place in the Netherlands. So it's really nice to be an entrepreneur in the Netherlands and also to spin out of university in the Netherlands. And next to that we signed pre-purchase agreements. We have a revenue this year of €275,000. And next to that we are raising right. So we want to raise up to 5 million early next year in a seed round. So that's also a way of funding our upscaling. And I think until the kiloton plant we will do it via pre-purchase agreements and after that we produce normal carbon credits and then via off-take agreements. So direct purchases.

Friderike:34:37

Okay, and you will always own the technologies, or are you going to think about selling that technology as well?

Ruben:34:46

That's a good question. For now we have a model that we operate or plants ourselves. But you see in this market many different competitors or other companies that are active in the market that are selling their products like an OAM, right? So it's also a thing that we think about as a third business model. But now we want to operate the plants itself, because we also want to make it as efficient as possible. Right, that you do have to operate the first plants yourself and after that, maybe, when we scale up, then we can sell our products as a factory or sell factories.

Friderike:35:20

Very interesting. So in the end the ocean is going to be the location and, of course, if you're a little bit more at the coast, maybe that's not a problem. But I can imagine the ocean is not owned by anyone. The ocean is like country, less besides, I think, the coast, etc. Is it then easier regarding regulation, who owns it, etc. If you're then at the coast, or is there any risk about does that cause any problems?

Ruben:35:49

To a certain mileage out of the shore, you are dealing with the national authorities right At mega or gigaton level. It would be interesting to do this process offshore, where offshore wind is in place or solar and storage capacity all in the same place, together with our system. That's the ideal situation. Until that scale, we will deploy our systems at the seashore. So we are dealing now with the local and national authorities and you have to get the permits in place right. So you're dealing with the national authorities. For that we don't look at offshore. And outside of the 70 mile range, I think then you're at open sea and there's no regulation on open sea. We don't look at that yet, because when we are at mega level or gigaton level, then we will be offshore, but until then I think we are on shore.

Rose:36:35

Correct me if I'm wrong. No, I agree, and I want to add there that seawater is being used a lot in the industry and to reduce the carbon footprint of many industries, especially the one producing electricity. We can very much combine our technology with them. Seawater is being pumped anyway In my house. They also go through our plan when CO2 is removed from it. So there's a lot of synergy to be benefited from when it is on coast on an already working industry.

Friderike:37:04

Especially, like you know, I've been in Singapore and I think they're using sea water to you know, as converting into drink water. So you would say, like you, you're actually plugging into that system and saying, like you, anyway, pump sea water and you're purified, etc. Then you can also actually capture carbon out of it. Okay, got it and the any other. Like you said, emery, we is definitely a challenge to grow, you know, like really showing that it is. You said sea water can be a challenge. Of course it's not a clear water, so there's a lot of sediments, there's a lot of stuff in there. Is there any other? What you see like this, this challenge we need to overcome to really scale to that level you would like to do.

Rose:37:46

Yes, what I want to add and then Rue and I will give the floor to you is the fact that green electricity is play a very important role as well. So reaching climate goals is only possible if, in addition to CDR, to carbon dioxide emissions, we also have higher green energy production. And then our technology even becomes more interesting because it's flexible. We can turn it on and off easily, so when the sun is shining, when the wind is blowing, we can remove carbon dioxide, and if not, then we can turn off the plant. So this CDR technology can also go very well hand in hand with the fluctuations of green electricity. And Rue, and please continue on the rest of challenges, because there are a lot.

Ruben:38:32

Yeah, there are a lot, so we need to get permits in place to work with the ocean water, right. And next to that, we need a lot of funding because it's capital intensive what we do. Investors need to believe in our story, in our upscaling and our team and also in this market, right, because everybody says, oh, there's going to be a trillion dollar market. I think so, I think so, but the investors need to believe it as well. And yeah, as I said, we want to raise a funding round of 5 million early next year. We have a lot of interest from VCs and other parties, but, yeah, it's not signed yet. So funding and money a big challenge for us as well. But it's with every startup, right. Cash flow management is a big headache for a startup.

Friderike:39:12

Yeah, exactly, yeah, right, especially for a deep tech or for a hot tech company, that's always a challenge. Okay, if you look back, you know, like, on this one and a half years, what did you learn the most and why?

Rose:39:25

I can start there. So I come really from a research and technical background and my main question first was to see if science has the answer. During the last year, I mainly realized that, yes, science does have the answer, but it takes more than science to make this happen, because a huge infrastructure is needed. Changes in policies with regards to what is allowed for a mission, what do people and companies have to oblige to? It's like transportation and logistic investment. So there is this whole big movement that needs to happen hand in hand to bring us to the net zero goals.

Ruben:40:06

And to add, we have to go fast, right, to solve climate change. And I'm really positive about this CDR market, because when you're looking at other deep tech industry or other deep tech niches or spaces, it takes a really long time to spin out of the university and then come up with some tech, also in the real environment, and to use that tech and to scale it up. Yeah, then you have to talk about 10 to 15 to 20 years time. When I see our technical team, there are only eight members in our technical team, or seven actually, and from the lab facility that we had early this year and we moved our lab facility to the seashore at the Afzeldijk in the Netherlands and only with that small team we already captured CO2 from the Waddezee in the northern part of the Netherlands, right. And when you compare it to other deep tech and scaling up other deep tech, yeah, we are scaling up in a blazing speed or amazing speed, and I learned that for deep tech you need deep pockets, so funding, but also creativity, right, and also determination, and you have to be a little bit crazy to scale up this technology and to believe in it, but when we do and when we can scale up this technology. We can solve climate change, but we can also have sustainable business out of it, because this is a really interesting market to be in.

Friderike:41:24

I just had, I think two days ago, I recorded a podcast with Airfix I'm not sure if you know them, it's a spin-off of South Pole and she had a very nice comparison, like you know. I asked her you know, how huge is the carbon-rhumal market now and how big does it need to be if you want to capture these 10, 15% of IPCC report which is saying, which is still necessary actually to capture and to store? And she said, like you know, it's the same size like the oil and gas industry right now. And just that just blew my mind, you know. And then, of course, you know, if you compare to that, then you actually need that infrastructure as well, which is in place right now for oil and gas to actually make that happen. So, yeah, super interesting. I really enjoyed the conversation. Let's just have one last question to each of you what makes you confident that we will solve the climate crisis in one sentence?

Ruben:42:16

Yeah, I can go first. I do see many really smart guys and girls who worked in tech and consultancy, for instance, and also a research department at universities that are converting their careers into CDR and there's a lot of stuff happening. So everybody is working on different pathways to solve climate change, but, yeah, there's a lot of stuff happening and I'm really positive about that.

Rose:42:41

So, yeah, it's also good for the listener of this podcast to know that we're getting there and from my side, I'm confident we can solve the climate crisis with technology, because we caused it ourselves with technology. If it caused the problem, we are smart enough to solve it, but we do need to go fast, otherwise the consequences of our lack in the speed can be very, very big for a lot of people and for the biodiversity and animals, of course.

Friderike:43:09

Okay, fantastic. So I just have one fun fact I want to share which I really like some murals. You shared that in my questionnaire before. I'm a farmer in Weekend in a CTO during the week, so I hope that one day you know we now have a farm to table thing in another lands from your little farm. I don't know how big it is, but I thought that's a very nice fun fact.

Rose:43:31

Yes, it brings me close to the nature and it reminds me every day how everything is in balance until we humans start working our hands around it, so we can make it better or worse. I hope we can all go towards a positive path. But of course, you're welcome. I would love to give you a tour, fantastic, okay.

Friderike:43:51

So how can people contact you if they want to learn more about you?

Ruben:43:54

Yes, people can email me at Ruben at co2.nl. Or look at our website wwwco2.nl and you can schedule a meeting with me directly on our website.

Friderike:44:06

So great. Thank you so much. I learned a lot today and I hope you're all the best for this. Technology Sounds very promising and, you know, let's catch this one gigaton CO2.

Ruben:44:20

Yeah, we're going to do that.

Friderike:44:21

Thank you very much. Thank you for joining today's episode. You can find the show notes, background materials and contact details of our guests on our website. So stay nowch, Follow and share our podcast on any platform available. Do you have a comment or interesting solution to take a deep dive? Please don't hesitate to go to our website. So stay nowch and write us an email.

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