New roadmap for Seaweed Generation boosts carbon capture in the deep sea
A recent project between the University of Exeter and Seaweed Generation has developed a roadmap for tracking seaweed’s ability to remove carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere.
Seaweed Generation, a micro-business with its roots in the South West, focuses on using the incredible properties of seaweed to absorb carbon dioxide in the Caribbean. They manage this by sinking invasive seaweed into the deep ocean to lock carbon away for several years. However, the deep sea is notoriously difficult to monitor, meaning that companies looking to successfully ‘stow away’ carbon need to be able to confidently track and monitor its fate in the marine environment.
To solve this problem, Seaweed Generation worked closely with Dr Matt Witt and Dr Ceri Lewis, and the AKT Associates, Dr Jo Warwick-Dugdale and Steph Andrews, to research and develop an innovative and robust monitoring, reporting and verification plan for Seaweed Generation’s operations in the Caribbean seas.
Seaweed Generation’s sinking site off the coast of Antigua
To achieve this, the project team set out to identify the key environmental parameters (biological, chemical and physical) that needed monitoring, along with the appropriate technologies and infrastructures for doing so, while also developing an appropriate monitoring method that could be enacted by Seaweed Generation and shared with the scientific community for review.
The final monitoring plan detailed all the parameters of the surface, midwater and sea floor environments that are needed to accurately assess the effects of sinking seaweed to the deep seabed during trials in their dedicated Antiguan sinking sites.
“This was the perfect project for us: short, sharp, intense and focused on solving an immediate problem. The partnership with University of Exeter was fantastic, to get access to such multi- and inter-disciplinary expertise all in one place and so easily was incredibly powerful”
Professor Mike Allen, Chief Science Officer, Seaweed Generation
This will enable Seaweed Generation to measure these key parameters and ensure they have a robust way to measure the seaweed sinking and its effects on the environment. Critically, the report outlines the processes, costs and equipment needed to do this, so that Seaweed Generation now have a complete guide for carrying out the necessary monitoring.
This project ran as part of Innovate UK’s Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) pilot scheme, created in 2022 to enable businesses to undertake short 4-month KTP projects with the University of Exeter at a significantly reduced cost.
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