Thursday, April 18, 2024

Brilliant Planet’s massive algae farms could sequester carbon at gigaton scale

The number of countries announcing pledges to achieve net-zero emissions over the coming decades continues to grow. A recent IPCC report suggested that tremendous amounts of carbon will need to be removed from the atmosphere to bring global carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero by 2050 and limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C. It is going to be critical to have ways of keeping carbon in the atmosphere at manageable levels.

And that’s precisely what the nature-based carbon capture and storage company, Brilliant Planet, is doing. The company is working on uniquely cost-effective, scalable, and verifiable carbon capture and storage system based on algae to permanently and quantifiably sequester carbon at the gigaton scale. Its innovative process enables vast quantities of microalgae to grow in open-air pond-based systems on coastal desert land. This is achieved without using freshwater by harnessing a natural process that contributes to the health of oceans and air.

Brilliant Planet’s carbon-sequestering method is solar-powered – because the algae are effectively powered by the sun – But also needs to run pumps to move seawater around. The process also helps de-acidify the ocean water it uses, enhancing local ecosystems and enabling paradigm-shifting levels of affordability.

“By using empty desert and seawater that would not have otherwise come to the surface, our solution creates ‘new’ Net Primary Productivity,” said Raffael Jovine, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Brilliant Planet. “In other words, we employ underutilized natural resources to grow new biomass and draw down excess carbon dioxide. Per unit area, this approach sequesters up to 30 times more carbon per year than rainforests, while it also de-acidifies the local coastal seawater back to pre-industrial levels.”

The company has now announced the closing of its oversubscribed $12 million Series A funding co-led by Union Square Ventures and Toyota Ventures. Following eight years of pioneering R&D and four years of pilot operations at its 3-hectare research facility in Morocco, Brilliant Planet will use the proceeds of the Series A round to prepare for the construction of a 30-hectare commercial demonstration facility while continuing its fundamental R&D program based in London.

The company believes that this is the right solution at the right time. “With many of the world’s largest companies announcing net-zero targets each month, we expect substantial growth in demand for high-quality carbon credits over the next few years,” said John Buttrick of Union Square Ventures, who will be joining the Board of Directors. “This presents an important opportunity for companies that can quickly scale carbon removal while meeting the quality standards demanded by sophisticated companies. We believe Brilliant Planet is uniquely positioned to do so.”