Ocean-based carbon removal to combat climate change

About Running Tide

Running Tide is a leading global ocean health company on a mission to restore the health and productivity of our oceans. Their ambitious goals are to rebalance the carbon cycle, decarbonize global supply chains, combat ocean acidification, and revitalize coastal communities.

At the heart of Running Tide’s efforts lies their dedicated and multidisciplinary team, focused on designing integrated software and hardware systems. These cutting-edge solutions are geared towards deploying nature-based interventions that not only remove carbon but also expand scientific understanding of ocean ecosystems.

Carbon Cycle

The global carbon challenge

The urgency of the mission cannot be overstated. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we need to remove 100 to 1000 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere before the end of this century to meet long-term climate goals. This is crucial to curbing the high acidity levels in the ocean, which has already absorbed a staggering 30% of the 2 trillion tonnes of CO2 emitted since the industrial era began.

This ocean acidity is wreaking havoc on marine life, causing coral bleaching, and leading to food insecurity. To address this issue effectively, large-scale interventions are required to shift CO2 from the fast carbon cycle to the slow cycle.

The deep ocean is a huge reservoir that, according to current estimates, stores an enormous 37,000 gigatons of carbon. To efficiently and effectively transfer measurable amounts of CO2 from the fast cycle back to the slow one without harming marine life, we need a combination of nature-based innovation and advanced satellite technology.

Ocean-based carbon removal

Running Tide is in the process of creating a global carbon removal system that maximizes the natural pathways for carbon removal. Here’s how it works: sustainably sourced, carbon-rich terrestrial biomass is transformed into buoys, which are then deployed in the open ocean, carried by ocean currents.

To facilitate carbon sequestration, these buoys are coated with calcium carbonate or similar alkaline materials. When placed in the open ocean, they undergo a process called Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE), which leads to the partial dissolution of the carbon buoy and effectively sequesters CO2.

To further enhance the system, Running Tide incorporates macroalgae. These buoys can be seeded with macroalgae, which actively fix carbon during their growth phase. As the buoy absorbs more water over time, it loses buoyancy and sinks rapidly, carrying the carbon-rich biomass to the deep ocean (slow carbon cycle), where it remains stored for centuries or even millennia. This comprehensive approach combines nature-based innovation and cutting-edge technology to achieve efficient carbon removal and make a positive impact on ocean health.


Moving to the slow carbon cycle

This process efficiently transports carbon, which is stored in both the macroalgae and terrestrial biomass within the buoy, effectively shifting it from the fast carbon cycle to the slow one. The brilliance of this system lies in its ability to amplify natural processes while utilizing low-energy inputs, such as gravity, photosynthesis, and ocean currents. This ensures that Running Tide’s carbon removal solution is not only highly scalable but also holds the potential to address the magnitude of the carbon challenge we face.

To assess the effectiveness of carbon buoy deployments, Running Tide employs a fleet of verification buoys that accompany the carbon buoys at sea. These verification buoys are an essential part of the company’s detailed quantification platform, providing crucial data for analysis and evaluation. By constantly refining and optimizing their approach through this quantification system, Running Tide aims to make an even greater impact on ocean health and global carbon reduction efforts.

Powered by RockBLOCK 9603

Capturing data from the carbon buoy deployments is absolutely crucial for understanding their progress. To ensure seamless data transmission, satellite connectivity is of utmost importance. In this regard, Running Tide conducted an in-depth assessment of available satellite communication options and ultimately settled on the RockBLOCK 9603.

This impressive Iridium-powered, plug-and-play transceiver facilitates two-way communication through Short Burst Data (SBD) from any location on Earth with a clear view of the sky. As a result, it provides the optimal solution for reliable data transmissions from Running Tide’s verification buoys.

The data transferred serves a vital purpose. It enables quantification of the carbon removed and empowers Running Tide to fine-tune the system for future deployments. This data-driven approach includes refining the size and composition of buoys, understanding the macroalgae lifecycle, and determining the best timing and locations for buoy deployments. By leveraging this valuable data, Running Tide continuously improves its carbon removal system, ensuring ever-greater efficiency and effectiveness in combating climate change and enhancing ocean health.


“Capturing comprehensive and accurate data in the early stages of the carbon buoy roll-out is particularly important so we can model the impacts of each iteration of our interventions and the progression of macroalgae in future deployments. We chose the RockBLOCK 9603 because it provides global coverage, has competitive and flexible data plans, and is integrator friendly to our existing carbon removal system.”

Tim Dyson | Senior Electrical Engineering Manager | Running Tide

Future endeavors

In December 2022 and January 2023, Running Tide successfully launched two deployments of verification buoys from their base in Iceland, leveraging the RockBLOCK 9603 technology. Their ultimate vision is not only to restore and amplify carbon transfer from the fast cycle to the slow cycle but also to create carbon-negative supply chains. By driving decarbonization across critical industries, Running Tide are aiming to shape a more sustainable and thriving future for our planet and its inhabitants.


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