Capturing Carbon

Researchers say that the natural ability of sea urchins to absorb CO2 could be a model for an effective carbon capture and storage system.

Newcastle University scientists discovered by chance that urchins use the metal nickel to turn carbon dioxide into shell.

They say the technique can be harnessed to turn emissions from power plants into the harmless calcium carbonate.

The research is in the journal, Catalysis Science and Technology.

Many sea creatures convert carbon dioxide in the waters into calcium carbonate which is essentially chalk. Species such as clams, oysters and corals use it to make their shells and other bony parts.

Bubbling under

When the team at Newcastle looked at the larvae of sea urchins they found that there were high concentrations of nickel on their external skeletons.

Working with extremely small nickel particles, the researchers found that when they added them to a solution of carbon dioxide in water, the nickel completely removed the CO2.


At present most carbon capture and storage (CCS) proposals are based around the idea of capturing CO2 from electricity generating stations or chemical plants and pumping the stripped out gas into underground storage in former oil wells or rock formations.

This is how it’s done!

But there are still question marks about the possibility that the stored carbon may leak back out again.

The Newcastle researchers say that an alternative approach would be to lock up the CO2 in another substance such as calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate.

This can already be done by using an enzyme called carbon anhydrase but it is very expensive.

PhD student Gaurav Bhaduri who is the lead author on the research paper explained that using nickel would be a far more economic option.

Continue Reading!

There are so many options out there, but we haven’t acted on any of them? Most of the time we hear about using renewable energy to reduce emissions, but what about what is already out there?

Oceans represent an important global carbon sink, absorbing 25% of annual man-made CO2 emissions and helping to slow the rate of climate change. The Southern Ocean in particular is known to be a significant oceanic sink, and accounts for 40% of all carbon entering the deep oceans. And yet, until now, no-one could quite work out how the carbon gets there from the surface waters.
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This is one of the biggest carbon sink in the word. If we could possibly create something to capture carbon from the oceans, not only will it help with climate change, but also help aquatic life forms which are threatened.

I was also looking at the business aspect of this. In many developed countries, there are carbon tax involving government and private sector. If a business creates a system which captures the carbon, they could possibly sell carbon credits to governments and private sectors. This could be the next BIG THING!


11 thoughts on “Capturing Carbon

  1. Michelle says:

    This is so cool Mahmoud! I had no idea this technology existed. I wonder what it will take to get it more acknowledged and used

  2. This is awesome Mahmoud!!! Very interesting. Do you know if there is risk in using this method. Are there any adverse effects that could occur as the result of such a growth in sea urchin? Or would this be done in a contained area? I suppose it’s too early to know too much about it yet.

    • mludin says:

      I don’t know if there will be any negative results. So far, there hasn’t been much research done on this topic. The final result will be calcium carbonate, so you will need a place to store this. Potential for this could be underground (one thing which comes up in my mind is storing in depleted mines before covering the ground).

  3. graereed8 says:

    This is wicked!! I’m a big fan! I’m wondering about the scalability of this? Is it possible to increase it to a size that will actually make a difference? Also when you talk about storing the Calcium Carbonate in depleted mines, will there be any protection measures against groundwater contamination? What do you think?

    • mludin says:

      Scalability is an issue at the moment. There is not enough research about this process at the moment. Like every technology, the price and scalability will become easier with research. In regards to the Calcium Carbonate, this substance is not a hazardous. It can be found in rocks around the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. It is also used for medical purposes because of high density calcium. So there is not much harm in this compound.

  4. Katiana says:

    This is an awesome technology! Really neat! Thanks for sharing with us!

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