Biologically-enhanced carbon removal

Biologically enhanced carbon removal uses natural systems like plants, algae, phytoplankton and bacteria, to fix and securely store carbon. Our research aims to investigate these natural systems as the means to effectively sequester carbon and permanently store it. We are focussing on marine and microbial solutions to remove competition with other demands for land use.

What we know

Marine plants and algae (macro and micro) are efficient and effective as fixers of carbon. For example, some micro-algae can fix carbon up to 10-50 times what is possible with terrestrial plants. We already know these systems capture and sequester carbon. We also already have the ability to enhance the amount of carbon removed and stored in these natural systems through protecting and restoring marine ecosystems like seagrass beds, mangroves and tidal marshes, as well as through activities like macro-algae (seaweed) cultivation. However questions remain around the scale and permanence of these systems for secure carbon removal. Our research will investigate these natural systems and investigate their potential for enhanced capture and permanent storage of carbon. We will also investigate opportunities around fertilising and artificially engineering phytoplankton to increase carbon uptake and deep-water sequestration.

Key research challenges

  • We know these natural systems can sequester carbon, our research will explore approaches to ensure this storage is permanent.  
  • Our research will deal with incredibly complex natural systems. There is the need to close gaps in our understanding so we can show the value of these systems for secure carbon removal and ensure that any interventions do not adversely impact natural ecosystem functions and balance.
  • The need to establish monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) to confirm secure carbon removal.

If successful, what might this program achieve?

If successful, our research will establish and enhance the effectiveness of these natural systems for secure carbon removal. It will develop the means to measure that benefit and be widely scalable and cost effective. In addition it will drive the development of new algal products that can be refined into food, feed, refined chemicals and biofuels, creating new industries.

Seeking collaboration

We are looking for collaborators and for people with expertise in systems biology, gene editing and carbon accounting to join the team.