These startups hope to spray metal-rich particles over the ocean to fight climate change

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Commercial ‘climate repair’

Despite the risks and unknowns of this approach, the studies have already inspired a few entrepreneurs.

Fiekowsky founded Methane Oxidation Corp., a company that uses metal particles to oxidize iron particles, according to a spring 2021 application for funding from online payment company Stripe. It was closed, but many of the listed team members moved on to the Blue Point conversion.

That startup has been self-funded to date, but now it’s working to raise money for research efforts and the development of particle-emitting devices, Henkel-Wallace said. During the planned field tests, the team said they would release a few grams of ferric chloride and measure the methane inside and outside using known optical techniques.

Henkel Wallace hopes to develop 100 million tons of methane removal capacity per year by the end of 2027, which it says would require about 3,000 ships with machinery that emits particles of a few grams per second.

He declined to go into detail about the company’s business model, but said he hopes to earn revenue from companies willing to pay for “climate repairs” of sorts.

At least two other for-profit companies have also emerged in this space.

A Swiss company, AMR AG, is now conducting laboratory research and hopes to raise $2 million to $3 million to continue field trials. The plan is to slowly release several kilograms of ferric chloride nanoparticles from a suspended oil platform, monitor the effect on methane, and repeat the effort several times to confirm the results. If the method is found to be safe and effective, the company will move forward with large-scale emissions by building towers up to 400 meters high, equipped with machines that emit tons of particles per hour.

According to Oswald Petersen, founder and CEO of AMR AG, there is no environmental risk in field testing the amount they proposed. He noted that running a truck engine for a short period of time produces roughly the same amount of pollution, albeit of a different type.

Another company is Iron Salt Aerosol, an Australian venture that several years ago planned to conduct field trials in Bass Strait, the channel that separates Victoria, Australia, from Tasmania. But he decided not to follow through with the effort “because the changes in atmospheric chemistry seen in [iron salt aerosol] movement, and the overall political governance framework is not ready to support this type of geoengineering,” one of the founders, Robert Tulip, wrote in an email to MIT Technology Review.

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