XPRIZE Ocean Recovery

Nature plays a vital role in regulating temperatures. Can we support conservation efforts and cool the planet?

A prize competition in this field would challenge teams to develop ocean-based solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The competition would be solution-agnostic, but we also want to make sure that potential solutions exist. Our research has yielded several:

  1. Solar-power-generated nanobubbles reflecting radiation to cool both surface waters and the atmosphere; to protect reefs, seagrass meadows, kelp forests, mangroves, and mariculture operations.
  2. Seawater atomization - using offshore wind power to spray seawater into the air, generating evaporation, fog, haze, marine cloud, sea salt aerosols, and transporting ocean heat into the tropopause, multiplying the evaporation area by in excess of a million-fold.
  3. Buoyant flakes: long-lived nutrient flakes from sustainable materials that act as safe and targeted, ultra-slow-release fertilizers for nutrient-deficient ocean regions. Their CDR effect is generated by vertically migrating species feeding in surface waters at night-time and respiring and excreting much of the biomass they consume at ~1,000m depth during the day.

We want to learn from you:

  • What are the innovation gaps in this area?
  • What would the winning team need to do? What would be audacious but achievable targets?
  • What is the expected impact of this prize?

Hi @marz62, @Sunbeam and @aje191 - One of the prize direction that we are considering is marine ecosystem restoration to fight global warming.

In your views what are the innovation gaps in this area and what could be an expected Impact for this competition?

Nick it seems odd to me that none of your itemised solutions actually restore marine ecosystems or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Not saying they are not worthy ideas, just not a great fit for your declared aims!
Putting ideas like that into your introductory statement will anchor and mould the conversation from here on.

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Thanks.
This is a great initiative.

Fish in oceans:

Annual fish catch in oceans is about 100 million tons, catch weight / wet weight. In terms of carbon content this is about 15 million tons carbon ( MtC ) . This is considered ‘over fishing’ , since at this rate of fishing, fish stocks in oceans are declining.

Many conservation measures are being taken to prevent collapse of fish stocks.
Why can’t we grow 15 MtC of fish in oceans?
Gross Agriculture production is about 8,000 MtC per year.

Fishing trawlers travel long distances and spend a lot of time to catch the declining fish. So they consume more fuel, resulting in higher CO2 emissions. If we can grow fish in open oceans, not just in cages, etc, then a lot of emissions can be avoided.

Dead zones:

In the past 70 years or so, about 500 Dead Zones developed in oceans. Fish stocks and catch in these areas has declined.

Decline in oxygen in oceans causes increase in methane emissions.

Dead zones and decline in dissolved oxygen in oceans is due to eutrophication and algal blooms. Reversing eutrophication and preventing algal blooms will help prevent CO2 and methane emissions.

Solutions:

Ocean Biomass Restoration and Enhancement,
Ocean Eutrophication and Hypoxia reversal and
Ocean Methane Emissions Reduction
are some Ocean GHG reduction and CDR solutions.

Ocean Biomass Restoration and Enhancement refers to growing Biomass in Oceans, I.e, Diatoms, zooplankton, Krill, fish, corals, whales, etc. Ocean Biomass has decreased due to industrial whaling, fishing, eutrophication, etc.
There are many conservation initiatives being taken, but there are no initiatives to actually grow desirable Biomass in open ocean. Growing trees on land is considered a Carbon Sequestration solution, but growing fish, whales, etc, in oceans is not considered sequestration.
Why is this so?

Many Fish live as long as trees,
so live fish are similar to live trees.

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Hi @josephjjames, @margaretmiller and @HMartell - One of the prize direction that we are considering is marine ecosystem restoration to fight global warming.

In your views what are the innovation gaps in this area and what could be an expected Impact for this competition?

Thank you for your feedback here!

We’re reorienting this one a bit to: ocean solutions for global temperature reduction.

So not necessarily ecosystem restoration + global temperature reduction, but we’re not ruling out the combination either.

The winning team may need to demonstrate X amount of carbon removal in the upper water column, top 100m.

Solutions could include: microbial engineering, macroalgal farm cultivation, and other technologies (not necessarily biological).

Although without the ecosystem component, this prize may overlap with XPRIZE Carbon Removal, which challenges teams to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and oceans.

What are your thoughts?

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Hi @NickOttens @Shashi Something important to consider is the geographic location where the proposed technologies would be implemented,

Because it is not the same to implement them in polar areas, than to implement them in other regions,

Since the albedo effect of the oceans is very low, the solution will have a much lower effect in regions far from the Poles, in fact I would dare to think that it would be very little,

For example if we put ice in a pool only a part of the pool will be cold for a while and the rest of the water will stay warm.

I think that addressing the solution of cooling the oceans, should be considered in conjunction with other solutions, for example reforesting mangroves, although in appearance it may only contribute to lower the C02, it also contributes to lower the acidification of the oceans generating a positive impact on the health of underwater life, in addition to contributing to regulate the temperature of the area by evapotranspiration. If we add to this one of the technological proposals presented here, the impact of generating a cooling effect could be even greater.

The solutions for this type of problems must have a set of simultaneous actions to have a significant impact,

In my opinion I believe that the design of the winning prize should be with a biological proposal and a technological proposal to work both winning teams to implement a solid integrated solution, I do not think it is convenient to design a prize under a separate solution scheme.

I think that if it is a separate solution that you are looking for the prize, under the technologies that they are listing, I think the technologies would work better near the poles to contribute to increase the albedo effect in the parts where the ice is melting so that it can help to regenerate the ice.

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Thank you, @sunbeam, for pointing these important considerations.
If I could clarify, the shift is towards a higher emphasis on global temperature reduction, utilizing the ocean environment. I believe it aligns with your suggestion.

I’m curious to learn more about the opportunity to combine tech-based solutions and nature-based solutions. Can these be evaluated in tandem, or do you think we should have different tracks in the competition? When it comes to geographies, is the opportunity for impact generally greater in the open ocean near the poles? or is it associated with a specific type of solution? Thank you!

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Hi @annevisscher, @barbara, @darmenterasp, @Davey - Given your vast knowledge in this space, you might have inputs to share on this prize idea i.e. ocean solutions to reduce global temperature.

What are the innovation gaps in this space? and Ideally, what should the Impact of such a prize?

Hi @Eti !

As long as a technology-based solution generates a symbiosis with nature-based solutions to contribute to scalability of impact, they should be evaluated together,

like the Rain Guardian methodology example, nature depends on the technology to receive water to distribute it to the ecosystems and the technology depends on the moisture retention of the regenerated ecosystem to be able to absorb the moisture to be able to distribute more water to other areas of the ecosystem that need to be restored.

I think that due to the complexity of implementation they should be by different tracks, to have the control to be able to select the best combination of both proposals, starting from the premise that the participants have the knowledge that their solution can be combined with another solution (technology based or nature based);

Figuring out your question it could be in two stages the contest, a pre-selection of teams with nature based solutions and technology based solutions, to have the full perspective of what solutions could be enhanced by combining them.

In terms of geographic location at the poles, the greatest opportunity we have to generate an albedo effect will be from all white layers that could form by atomizers , ice shields, etc. In this case, for example, using atomizers to generate fog and coolers to make ice shields at the same time can be a joint solution.

In other regions the albedo effect can be generated by the fog from the regenerated microclimates of forests, forests, rivers, ponds. even the very capacity of the vegetation cover to retain water and function as a thermostat to regulate thermostat that regulates temperature. Water retention is important in order to have a dosed evapotranspiration

I think that depending on the region it will depend on the solution,

It is important to consider geoengineering and environmental engineering knowledge as support of the desing and implementation of an effectively solution

Cheers :grinning:

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Thank you @Sunbeam! this is immensely helpful!

Hi @Victor_Jongeneel and @Diverman - What are your thoughts on having a ocean-based solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Do you think a competition in this space would be audacious enough? If so, what should the wining team demonstrate?

We’re wordsmithing what we call the “winning-team-will statement” for this prize: a succinct description of what a competing team would need to do to win.

Here’s the current version, and I’d appreciate your thoughts:
Restore an ocean ecosystem for its intrinsic value and services, driving added value for climate action (e.g., temperature reduction, GHGs sequestration).

The next step are drafting the testing and judging criteria for the prize. Here’s what we have so far:

  • In the ocean environment, in team’s chosen geography and ecosystem;
  • Demonstrate an integrated, full process;
  • Restore the most ecosystem services, relative to the chosen ecosystem, within X time.
  • Restore the highest intrinsic value (non-monetary) of the chosen ecosystem and its natural assets, assessed across: biodiversity/species, ecosystem health, land area, local community livelihoods, estimated economic-value of ecosystems services.
  • With the highest added value towards climate action; measuring GHG sequestration and/or temperature reduction.
  • At the highest sustainability score,
    • Assessing impact to the surrounding environment and the broader region, including local and indigenous communities
    • Assessing technologies* and practices used for their lifecycle (incl. End of Life plans)
  • At the lowest cost: below $X (TBD).
  • At the highest scalability potential score; measuring Y(TBD)?
  • Impact activity: layer into existing policies and developmental goals.

@spicedreams, @marz62, @mattymatt, @bhaskarmv, @Sunbeam - We would love to have your feedback on the wining team will statement and the testing and judging criteria.

Hi @Shashi, these are my thoughts on the matter,

*(e.g., temperature reduction, GHGs sequestration, underwater life improvement, increase albedo effect).

*This idea is already considered above but perhaps for the entrant to be more specific about what it proposes to achieve, additionally it could be Indirect impacts that the solution would generate on underwater life, climate, environment, communities; and whether the solution is designed to integrate with other technological or eco-technics solutions.

*Desirably the solution would be modular for scalability to mitigate manufacturing, logistics and installation costs.

*Could be added / Diagram of the solution for the scalability, funtioning, implementation; maybe could help to the contestants to explain better their solutions, because some times are good ideas but not very well explained

:grinning:

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Hi @Diverman, @aje191 and @Victor_Jongeneel - Given your expertise, we feel you might be able to advise us on this competition and also on the draft metrics of the testing and judging criteria.

Hi @Victor_Jongeneel, @TaliV and @margaretmiller - We feel you might have inputs or feedback to share on this prize metrics, specifically if there are any gaps in the testing criteria.

I actually helped found an initiative that identifies and accelerates breakthrough ocean technologies to market (https://www.oceansfunders.com/). This should get much more attention as the ocean is our greatest asset in terms of carbon sequestration, not to mention ocean alkalization is one of the greatest challenges we have around climate.

We could actually achieve this with grand-scale open-ocean kelp farming, some innovations I actually am already aware of. If there was a prize on this specifically, it would probably achieve the greatest level of carbon sequestration in the fastest amount of time we could achieve. Not to mention restoring biodiversity.

The ocean gets almost no attention despite being our greatest asset in this fight. Oceans Funders would be more than happy to collaborate on this.

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Reorienting to ocean solutions for global temperature reduction now allows entry for the Ice Shields method which increases off-planet radiation, sequesters CO2 and provides chilled and oxygenated water to the deep ocean. It would perform all these functions simply by using floating wind turbine power to pump seawater onto sea ice in the freezing season such that it formed linked, and typically grounded, arrays of low-angled, conical ice volcanos interspersed with polynyas of open water. The dense, chilled brine residual to ice formation would concentrate the seawater’s CO2 and oxygen content, taking it to the depths as it fell off the edge of the volcanos, where the CO2 would react with seabed carbonates (shells, bones and limestone) to form benign, dissolved bicarbonate. The heat given off as the water froze would be taken by a relatively-warm thermal centred on each volcano’s peak to the tropopause, whence it would radiate into space in the dark, polar winter. In summertime, the bright, thickened ice arrays would reflect most of the incident solar energy whilst restoring lost habitat for Arctic wildlife.

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I’m a social scientist rather than a chemist or biologist. So you might say what have I got to offer to this discussion? the answer is a whole new perspective. A problem may have a technical solution and XPrize staff and most of the community members dream up some marvelous and audacious ideas. But the problems you present such as global warming are not technical problems. They are social problems. A social problem may have a technical aspect, and XPrize community members do a great job of thinking “outside the box” about that. But most assuredly, a social problem has a political aspect as well. And here I think I can make a useful contribution.

Consider global warming and the oceans. The oceans belong toall of us, right? Yes, but some nations think that they can claim the oceans of interest to themselves… I am not going to name names here. But if you want to solve the problem of global warming which changes the ecology of oceans you must begin with recognition that certain policies pursued by ocean bordering nations are damaging not only to other nations but at least in the long run to themselves. If you militarize islands in a sea that many nations depend on for fish you risk damaging the fishing beds you covet for their protein that is vital to your own country. Military installations, usually not under civilian oversight. are notorious polluters. If the American example is any guide, they can be dumping nuclear waste in the ocean, they can be dumping exotic chemicals that nature has no quick ability to break down. In other words, asserting your own priority can be self defeating at least in the long run if not immediately. Nations that aneigbors need to put aside their quarrels over how to divide the spols in order to make sure there is something to divide.

So, I suggest that when you ask “what are the innovation gaps in this area,” I would say that one glaring omission is a feasible plan for bringing all interested parties to the table to thrash out the issues that need to e resolved technically and also mechanisms for seeing to it that the resulting benefits are shared equitably. Otherwise, all the technical brilliance for which XPrize is justly renowned will be for naught.

Thanks @Shepard and @Sev for sharing these insights. Great points.

@Shepard - It is good to know that Oceans Funders would be interested in collaboration. We’ll connect with you once this prize design is finalized.