A pioneering project led by London startup Seabound, in collaboration with global shipping company Lomar, has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of capturing significant emissions from cargo ships and converting them into valuable limestone pebbles.
Funded by a US$1.5 million grant from the UK Government, Seabound installed a prototype carbon capture system on a 240-meter container ship, showcasing its ability to capture at least 78% of emissions from the vessel’s smokestacks. The system, housed within a few shipping containers, functions as a retrofit, attaching to the ship’s exhaust to capture carbon dioxide and sulfur emissions emitted during the combustion of marine diesel.
The captured exhaust gas is directed through a bed of calcium oxide pebbles, known as quicklime, which reacts with carbon dioxide to produce calcium carbonate or limestone. This process effectively traps and stores the captured emissions within the pebbles.
Seabound’s system transforms a relatively inexpensive material into a valuable commodity by leveraging the chemical reaction between quicklime and carbon dioxide. The resulting limestone pebbles offer a potential revenue stream that could offset the costs of implementing and operating the carbon capture system.
During a pilot voyage onboard the container ship, Seabound’s team achieved a carbon capture efficiency of 78%, along with over 90% sulfur capture. The system’s effectiveness is expected to further improve, with the potential to capture up to 95% of emissions in its optimal configuration.
Despite the significant progress demonstrated by Seabound’s carbon capture technology, challenges remain in scaling the solution to address the vast emissions from the shipping industry. Cargo ships account for approximately 3% of the world’s total carbon emissions, presenting a formidable decarbonization challenge. While alternative cleaner solutions such as ammonia and methanol are being explored, onboard carbon capture solutions like Seabound’s offer a promising interim solution.
Alisha Fredriksson, CEO and Co-Founder of Seabound expressed optimism about the project’s impact, emphasizing the immediate potential for emissions reduction within the existing shipping fleet. Fredriksson highlighted the significance of the breakthrough, stressing that the shipping industry can commence carbon capture initiatives without waiting for future fuel advancements.
Seabound’s innovative carbon capture technology marks a significant step towards reducing emissions in the shipping industry. While challenges persist, initiatives like this demonstrate the feasibility of onboard carbon capture solutions and their role in transitioning toward a more sustainable future.