SeaO2 outgrows her home lab

The carbon capture startup SeaO2 has already outgrown its modest Leeuwarden workspace and is inching closer to a large-scale pilot. Less than a year ago, CTO Rose Sharifian was just kicking-off with her membrane stack in the Water Application Centre on the WaterCampus (previous report). Now her company is sharing a roof with REDstack on the Afsluitdijk. But as they sell their first carbon credits and are nominated for Elon Musk’s XPRIZE, SeaO2 can move out and stand on her own two feet.

Moving out

Like an awkward pubescent phase, little fits SeaO2’s growth spurt. “We’ve outgrown our lab scale,” chief technology officer and co-founder Rose Sharifian proudly says. “The standard lab equipment simply doesn’t suit our needs anymore. But bulk orders won’t do it either. So, we already turned to DIY stores to build our current set-up.” Challenges like these show her engineering background all the better.

Luckily, they can get some help from another Wetsus spin-off: REDstack – located at the Afsluitdijk. “They offer us a facility we need since we left the WAC, and they already pump-up filtered seawater and freshwater we can use. And now, we are almost at Technological readiness level 5, say 4.8. A measure for scale and market readiness. We have run experiments for a long time with real compounds. But for TRL 5, we need to run for couple of months non-stop.”

Scaling up

It has already resulted in the first five kilogram of carbon dioxide and a first customer paying $3200 per ton of carbon dioxide removed. So, a lot more gas canisters are required. That is not nearly competing with the aim of $500 per ton CO2, but the second buyer will just pay $2000 already — a massive improvement.

And that is before the major run on greenhouse gas. “Now, our buyers mostly aim to buy carbon credits – to offset their carbon dioxide emissions. But also, the market for green CO2 use is growing. “We are in an economic position like oil and gas in the eighties. And it will have to grow because we emit 160 megatons in the Netherlands alone, and 37 gigatons worldwide.”

To one megatons of carbon is the goal of Sharifian’s company by 2030. “We soon want to start with a pilot of 250 tons per year –30 kilograms per hour. Luckily, we have a modular design. Operating them in parallel is not too challenging, but dealing with real waters – corrosion, fouling, and temperatures – is. We are nearly starting to build our outside pilot. However, we must find a place where they already pump up seawater to save costs.”

Looking forward

Her pride, combativeness, and enthusiasm shimmer through as she mentions it all. “We are also nominated to Elon Musk’s XPRIZE for carbon capture to win $100 million. Last time for the smaller $1 million, we already got to the top 60 when we barely started.”

“But we could not have gotten to this point if it weren’t for Wetsus, NEW-ttt, NWO, our team, and now REDstack.”

The SeaO2 team now consists of seven employees – engineers of all sorts. But as of now, more are needed, from internships to business-skilled people. Join them at

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