Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Blue Dot Change

Using ships to accelerate the destruction of atmospheric methane


A tech startup is hoping to use ocean vessels to help break up atmospheric methane

Spotted: Methane is the second most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) after carbon dioxide (CO2). It accounts for about 20 per cent of global emissions and has a 28 to 34 times greater global warming potential than CO2 over a 100-year period. Atmospheric methane is broken down in natural processes, but these cannot keep up with the excess methane generated by human activities.

Working to speed up this process is startup Blue Dot Change. The company has developed a way to use ships to reduce atmospheric methane and plans to equip ships with a dispenser that releases an iron-rich catalyst containing chloride into the air. When sunlight hits the particles, chlorine radicals (uncharged molecules with an electron available for bonding) are produced, driving reactions that convert methane into water and carbon dioxide molecules.

Blue Dot Change has recently partnered with Lomar Shipping’s new venture lab, Lomarlabs, which was launched to “catalyse the deployment of deep-tech solutions to solve the maritime industry’s biggest challenges”. Lomar will work with Blue Dot to develop, design, and test the catalyst dispenser, which would then be trialled on Lomar’s fleet of ‘floating labs’. Preparations to install and deploy the first fully operational system on a Lomar vessel will occur in late 2024 or early 2025.

The process the startup uses, dubbed the iron-salt aerosol method, mimics a phenomenon that some researchers believe may have accelerated previous ice ages. The concept is increasingly the subject of academic study, although some researchers worry about the unintended consequences of interfering with atmospheric chemistry.

Other attempts to decrease amounts of atmospheric methane spotted in the Springwise database include using microbes to turn methane into soil nutrients and using seaweed to combat methane emissions from cattle.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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