Algae may be Microsoft’s latest weapon in the fight against its carbon footprint

why does it matter: Microsoft creates anywhere from 50 to 100 new data centers around the world each year to support cloud-based technologies and services. Each hub contributes to a massive and ever-growing carbon footprint, one that the software giant previously vowed to eliminate by 2030. It may sound like a tall order, but the tech giant might have a fighting chance thanks to some small new friends. .

Back in 2020, Microsoft announce its commitment to achieving a “carbon negative” operating state by 2030. The company has shared its decarbonization efforts with the world in 2021, having funded the removal of more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the environment. Despite the removal, the company found that some of its emissions targets, namely Scope 3 emissionswas still increasing.

Scope 3 emissions, emissions for which the company is indirectly responsible but not directly produced, are very difficult to control. Microsoft has enlisted help running tideInc., a company dedicated to restoring ocean health in transforming the carbon cycle, to help offset the impact of these emissions and get closer to its carbon negative goal.

Tide running solution is based on moving carbon than known as Rapid carbon cycle to slow carbon cycle. The rapid cycle, which keeps carbon circulating between our oceans and atmosphere, is complete in a few years, allowing the level of carbon diffusing in our atmosphere to remain high. The slow cycle can take hundreds to millions of years to complete, keeping carbon trapped in the cycle and out of our atmosphere for much longer periods.

Running Tide is trying to transform the carbon cycle by deploying specialized carbon floats made up of limestone and forest materials hundreds of miles offshore. These floats built on algae seeds are then left to dissolve, which helps maintain the ocean’s alkalinity while breaking up the buoy. The seeded algae begin to grow, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by photosynthesis.

The floats eventually degrade enough to lose buoyancy and sink to the ocean floor. Once the carbon gets deep enough, it is squeezed out by the enormous water pressure of the ocean, buried under ocean sediment, or consumed by aquatic life. According to Running Tide, this conversion activity and the enormous pressure of the ocean above keep the carbon trapped in and out of the atmospheric circulation for hundreds, sometimes millions of years.

The proposed solution sounds good in theory, but the technology is new and is currently undergoing further testing. In an interview with TechcrunchRunning tides Jordan Brigner He stated that the company has removed just under 1,000 tons of carbon in its testing and research operations, and has a larger goal of removing more than 12,000 tons of carbon on behalf of Microsoft over the next two years.

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