SEAO2: Resolving climate issues by taking out CO2 out of the atmosphere

24 Februari 2024

The Afsluitdijk is an impressive dam that protects large parts of the Netherlands against flooding. There is no coincidence that precisely on this prime example of Dutch marine engineering, SEO2 is based. A big building with highly complex and noisy machines inside. At the center of this stands a young woman with a lab coat and a big smile. Meet dr. Ing. Rose Sharifian. Only 31 years old and already fulfilling her dreams: helping to resolve the world’s climate issues, together with a team of promising scientists and engineers. The Faculty of Impact supports her.

Growing up in Iran, Sharifian’s original plan was to make a lot of money in the oil and gas industry. After a Bachelors in petroleum engineering in Teheran, she went to the Netherlands to study petroleum engineering MSc in Delft. Soon after, the oil crisis started. “There was no work in petroleum engineering, but I was determined to stay in engineering. I wanted to do something technical.”

Sharifian started a joint PhD at Wetsus with Delft University and discovered something exciting: Bipolar membrane electrodialysis (BPMED), which is a complicated name for a technology  that takes a stack – a kind of box –  with bipolar membranes and uses electricity to extract dissolved CO2 from seawater. A very promising technology because the sea is like a sponge that sucks CO2 from the air. There is 150 times more CO2 in the water than in the air. If you clean the water, you clean the air.

Sharifian and her promoter knew they were on to something big. Taking CO2 out of the atmosphere is a necessary step in resolving climate issues. A small box, the size of tv-screen, removes 1,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. They can capture and store this carbon or convert it to chemical fuels – only using green electricity.

“We wanted to scale up”, dr. Ing. Sharifian says in her lab. And the call from Faculty of Impact came at the exact right time. “I wanted to bring this technology to the market and needed time, money, and expertise. Faculty of Impact provided all of these things.”

Sharifian is now halfway through the program and extremely enthusiastic. “The industry is worried. Everyone needs to reduce their carbon emission, and nobody really knows how. Our technology is efficient, easy to scale up and can be used anywhere in the world. We are truly solving a problem here and that is being noticed. Companies from all over the world are interested in what we are doing. We have already sold 150 tonnes CO2 up to today, through a form of pre purchase agreements where buyers such as Klarna and Ledgy pay us now to remove carbon dioxide later.

It is no surprise that Sharifian is not worried about what will happen after her cooperation with Faculty of Impact. “I have learned so much from this program and met great and interesting people that can help me progress. I know that we are going to make it. We are now looking for a location where we can build our pilot. We want to test the effect of our technique on the ocean’s ecosystem, but we need a high capacity to do that. By the end of next year, we will have taken out 250 tonnes of CO2 from the North Sea through our pilot.”

Ambitious? “For sure, but I know it will work. We want to develop this technology  even further to reach a capacity of 1,000,000 tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030. As we grow, we probably will branch out to Iceland or Norway where the electricity grid is much greener. This technology will work all over the world. This is just the beginning!”

Want to know more about this groundbreaking technology? Watch this SeaO2 explainer video.

More about dr. Ing. Sharifian’s start-up? SeaO2: Home

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