Microsoft bets on algae to mitigate its growing carbon footprint

Like all of its friends within the tech business, Microsoft has a carbon air pollution downside.

The software program big’s emissions are on the rise, regardless of a pledge from the corporate to be carbon negative by 2030. This ticking clock explains Microsoft’s newest deal to handle its environmental toll: It’s turning to Running Tide to offset a few of its emissions through the ocean.

Running Tide, which additionally works with Stripe and Shopify, goals to use this cash to lock away large portions of carbon dioxide. Operating Tide has stated it would do that by efforts reminiscent of growing an entire lot of kelp on biodegradable buoys, intending for the algae to ultimately sink to the ocean ground. The startup has a white paper on its work, however for those who’re searching for only a tad extra element, here’s what enterprise improvement head Jordan Breighner instructed ClassyBuzz at this time:

“We mix wooden and alkaline minerals to type a small carbon buoy that we will seed with algae seed and deploy deep into the open ocean,” stated Breighner. “The buoy floats, the alkaline minerals dissolve, decreasing ocean acidification and eradicating carbon by a course of known as ocean alkalinity enhancement. The algae grows quickly, absorbing CO2. After lower than three months the buoy and the algae and the embodied quick carbon sink to the underside of the ocean, and in the event that they sink under 1,000 meters the carbon is gone for roughly 1,000 years.”


“Nevertheless, not all buoys are seeded,” Breighner added. “That’s based mostly on ocean situations which can be optimum for algae development.”

On the entire, the carbon removing enterprise remains to be early in its improvement. It has not but proved it may lastingly draw down carbon on the scale it will definitely aspires to attain. Some scientists additionally fear that totally developed, venture-backed sequestration schemes, reminiscent of gigantic kelp farms, might unintentionally hurt ocean ecosystems, MIT Technology Review reported final yr. 

Thus far, Breighner stated that Operating Tide has “solely eliminated lower than 1,000 tons of carbon in check and analysis deployments.” The startup intends to take away up to 12,000 tons over two years for Microsoft alone.

The deal is valued within the single-digit hundreds of thousands, Operating Tide stated. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to remark on the value.

Microsoft’s most up-to-date sustainability report confirmed a 21.5% increase in emissions from 2020 to 2021. The software program big attributed this to scope 3 emissions, which it stated had been linked to knowledge middle improvement and extra clients utilizing its merchandise extra usually. In different phrases, Microsoft grew its cloud and gaming companies, and its internet emissions rose in tandem. The corporate aims to be carbon negative within the subsequent seven or so years, and its plan to get there hinges on carbon removing.

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