Equatic, a Los Angeles-based ocean carbon removal startup, has launched a breakthrough low-cost, gigaton-scale climate technology that combines ocean carbon removal and carbon-negative hydrogen production. The company has also signed a CO2 removal (CDR) pre-purchase agreement with aerospace giant Boeing, which will buy 62,000 tonnes of carbon removal and 2,100 tonnes of carbon-negative hydrogen from Equatic. Equatic is a spinoff company of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s Institute for Carbon Management and is the first to apply a revolutionary electrolytic approach to address the two utmost climate challenges: the permanent removal of gigatons of CO2 and the shift away from fossil fuels.
According to Lorenzo Corsini, Equatic’s Principal Advisor, Equatic’s first-of-its-kind technology solves both climate challenges. It combines basic principles of chemistry with the natural capabilities of the world’s best carbon removal tool, the ocean, to create the most promising solution for scalable decarbonization. The oceans are the world’s largest carbon sink, and Equatic’s revolutionary technology speeds up this natural cycle to remove and permanently store CO2. At the heart of Equatic’s novel ocean carbon removal tech is a single-process but multi-product solution that allows decarbonization at the speed, scale, and cost required to tackle the climate crisis. The costs are low enough to allow unprecedented scaling and adoption globally. Equatic aims to achieve 100,000 tonnes of ocean carbon removal yearly by 2026 and millions of removals for less than $100 per tonne by 2028.
Equatic’s CO2 removal plant uses four items to remove and store CO2 while producing carbon-negative hydrogen at the same time. These include air, seawater, rock, and renewable electricity. Seawater enters the plant, and the ocean-based removal tech uses electrolysis, a process wherein electric current passes through seawater. Water splits into hydrogen and oxygen gas, with alkalinity promoting carbon removal. The air then passes through the processed seawater, leading to direct air capture. Co-produced hydrogen gas is sold as a clean fuel source. In the last step, Equatic neutralizes the treated seawater using alkaline rock while ensuring that its natural chemistry remains intact. Seawater discharges back into the ocean. These processes trap CO2 in solid minerals and as substances that naturally dissolve in the oceans. Thus, the captured CO2 is stored permanently for over 100,000 years. This unique ocean-based carbon removal process is the key to achieving scalable, durable, and high-quality carbon removal. It also allows for industry-leading Monitoring, Verification, and Reporting. Since the process doesn’t rely on the open ocean but within the boundaries of an industrial plant, Equatic can measure removal with extreme certainty. This enables the startup to sell in-demand, high-quality, and permanent carbon removal credits. Plus, there’s the added bonus of generating carbon-negative hydrogen fuel.
The hydrogen by-product can be used to power Equatic’s process itself. It can also be sold as a carbon-negative or clean energy fuel to decarbonize other processes or sectors. This particularly includes the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) for the aviation industry. Sheila Remes, Boeing’s Vice President of Environmental Sustainability, pointed out that “reaching aviation’s sustainability goals will require a multi-faceted approach and Boeing sees immense value in Equatic’s technology.” Equatic spun out from UCLA with $30M+ in initial funding including grants and equity investments from various organizations. These include the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the National Science Foundation, The Nicholas Endowment, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, among many others. The company is currently running two ocean CO2 removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore. All of the carbon removed from these pilots has been pre-sold to Boeing and to the payment solution provider, Stripe. Stripe’ Frontier fund aims to invest $1 billion to help carbon removal startups scale up and lower the cost of sucking CO2 from the air. Combining ocean carbon removal and hydrogen production within the same process significantly lowers both their costs. This allows Equatic not to depend on fossil fuels, thereby avoiding a fossil fuel-related footprint.