The Ocean Alk-Align Project

Mission Statement

Ocean Alk-Align is a research project designed to investigate the efficiency & durability, environmental safety, and Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) requirements of Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE). The members of the Ocean Alk-Align consortium are outcome-agnostic and do not advocate for any specific method or field site for testing OAE.

Why do we need Carbon Dioxide Removal?

There is a growing awareness that our ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be too little, too late to limit global warming to 1.5-2°C. Out of the 400 IPCC scenarios which have a 50% or better chance of complying with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, 344 explicitly rely on the large-scale application of Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) (Anderson 2015). For the about 15 marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies (mCDR) proposed to date, modeling studies suggest that Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) has the largest CDR potential,

Ocean Alk-Align aims to provide a broad knowledge base on three aspects essential for possible OAE implementation: (1) efficiency and permanence of CO₂ removal; (2) environmental safety; (3) monitoring and verification. The Ocean Alk-Align team members have leading roles in ongoing national and international OAE research and coordination efforts. In short, the Ocean Alk-Align consortium is uniquely positioned to address and answer the four key questions regarding OAE implementation: which (feedstocks), where (geographical location), when (season) and how (application approach and MRV).

Learn more about the research themes we are addressing.

What is OAE?

Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) is a Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technology that mimics a natural process known as ‘weathering’. Weathering is the process of natural rocks being broken down and releasing minerals (alkalinity) through repeated contact with moving water. This alkalinity is then able to neutralize CO₂ present in the water by converting it to bicarbonate (HCO₃⁻) which can be stored for long periods of time. The disequilibrium created from this reaction allows for more CO₂ to be pulled out of the atmosphere, be converted to HCO₃⁻, and then be stored away in the ocean (see figure below).

alk-align diagram

Research Themes

There are three primary research themes that the Ocean Alk-Align consortium will focus on using an integrated cross-disciplinary approach:

  1. Analysis of the efficiency of uptake and durability of storage of CO₂ depending on OAE approach, mode of deployment, application site, and environmental/climate feedbacks.
  2. Assessment of the environmental impacts, risks, and co-benefits of OAE considering scale dependencies and physical, chemical, and biological site characteristics.
  3. Development and testing of an integrated observation-modeling framework for Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) of OAE.

Funder Acknowledgment

This work is funded by Carbon to Sea and the Thistledown Foundation.

alk-align diagram alk-align diagram