PUB and partners to build the largest ocean-based carbon dioxide removal facility in Singapore

After the successful launch and operation of two trial projects in Los Angeles and Singapore in 2023, UCLA and Equatic, a company originating from UCLA research, are gearing up for the next phase: establishing a US$20 million full-scale demonstration facility in partnership with PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency. This demonstration facility will receive funding from PUB, the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore, and UCLA’s Institute for Carbon Management (ICM).

In the upcoming 18 months, a diverse team consisting of researchers and technology scaling specialists from UCLA’s Institute for Carbon Management (ICM) and Equatic will embark on constructing the world’s largest ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR) facility at PUB’s research and development center in Tuas, situated in western Singapore.

“We are excited to extend our collaboration with UCLA and Equatic to create a solution that could complement PUB’s desalination facilities. At PUB, we firmly believe that technological progress, in conjunction with academia and the private sector, is crucial in tackling the intricate challenges brought about by climate change,” stated Dr. Pang Chee Meng, PUB’s Chief Engineering and Technology Officer.

PUB has established a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2045 and follows a three-fold approach to Replace, Reduce, and Remove carbon emissions to close its carbon cycle. In addition to substituting fossil fuel sources with renewable solar energy and investing in research and development to decrease energy consumption in water treatment processes, capturing and eliminating carbon emissions released into the atmosphere is a central component of PUB’s decarbonization strategy.

This partnership with UCLA and Equatic is part of Singapore’s broader initiatives to explore innovative technologies like carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), which could help alleviate the impacts of climate change.

The current facility of Equatic in Singapore, which was tested at removing 0.1 metric ton (100 kg) of carbon dioxide per day, has demonstrated its success.

Equatic’s current facility in Singapore, initially trialed at removing 0.1 metric ton (100 kg) of carbon dioxide daily, has demonstrated success. Upon completion, Equatic-1 will have the capacity to eliminate 10 metric tons of carbon dioxide per day from both seawater and the atmosphere — a hundredfold increase compared to the existing trial.

If successful, this innovative technology would enable the removal and long-term storage of greenhouse gases, while also generating approximately 300kg of carbon-negative hydrogen per day. Once this facility achieves its technical demonstration goals, Equatic intends to expand and market the technology on a global scale.

“We deeply appreciate the pivotal support from PUB and NRF, which have facilitated the establishment of a top-tier partnership in our collaborative endeavors to combat climate change,” stated Equatic co-founder and ICM director Gaurav N. Sant, who serves as the Pritzker Professor of Sustainability at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. “Scaling up carbon dioxide removal solutions necessitates advanced technology, steadfast partners, and a focus on achieving timely and measurable success. We are extremely fortunate to have forged this shared vision with our Singaporean partners to pilot and scale Equatic’s solutions.” Sant also holds academic positions in the departments of civil and environmental engineering, materials science and engineering, as well as the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA.

The Equatic process activates and enhances the ocean’s inherent capacity to sequester carbon dioxide by extracting dissolved carbon dioxide while boosting the ocean’s ability to absorb more of this greenhouse gas. Through electrolysis, an electric current is passed through seawater sourced from nearby desalination plants operated by PUB. This process triggers a sequence of chemical reactions that split water into its carbon-negative hydrogen and oxygen components, all the while securely storing both dissolved (in seawater) and atmospheric carbon dioxide in the form of stable calcium and magnesium-based materials for a minimum of 10,000 years.

As per the World Bank, the average global annual carbon emissions per person in 2020 stood at approximately 4.3 metric tons. At full capacity, Equatic-1 can eliminate as much carbon dioxide as nearly 850 individuals emit annually. Once the facility achieves its targeted carbon removal objectives, Equatic plans to introduce commercial plants aimed at eliminating close to 110,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually — equivalent to the yearly carbon emissions of over 25,000 individuals.

At its maximum capacity, Equatic-1 has the capability to eliminate an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to the annual emissions of approximately 850 individuals.

Equatic-1 is under construction as a modular system, enabling the staging and stacking of individual units to facilitate systematic and rapid expansion. This method mitigates the risks typically associated with scaling up technological innovations. The system will utilize specialized anodes, developed with assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), to generate oxygen while eliminating chlorine byproducts during seawater electrolysis.

This introduces a novel approach to large-scale carbon dioxide removal, coupled with hydrogen co-production — a clean fuel essential for decarbonizing transportation and industrial sectors — utilizing seawater as an abundant resource.

“The pilot plant established in Singapore in 2023 yielded crucial performance data validating our efficiencies in carbon dioxide removal, rates of hydrogen production, and energy demands for the process,” mentioned Equatic co-founder Dante Simonetti, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UCLA Samueli and the associate director for technology translation at ICM. “These findings guided the design and engineering pathway for Equatic-1 based on the scaling performance verified by the pilot system.”

The carbon credits generated by Equatic-1 are assigned to the project’s partners, and Equatic has forged agreements with companies such as Boeing for the acquisition of carbon credits from future commercial plants.

Equatic’s initial pilot initiatives were introduced at the Port of Los Angeles and Singapore in April 2023, following the development of bench-scale prototypes at UCLA in 2021. This technology was recognized as one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2023 and featured among Popular Science’s 50 greatest innovations of 2023. It also clinched the 2021 Liveability Challenge, a global competition supported by the Singapore-based non-profit Temasek Foundation, with participation from 450 applicants across over 60 countries.

In addition to funding from PUB, the Equatic process (previously known as Project SeaChange) has received support from various entities including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the Nicholas Endowment, the Temasek Foundation, Boeing, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E and its Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.

Source: PUB





Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.