Our Nova Scotia project is based in Tufts Cove in Halifax.
Working with local utility Nova Scotia Power, Inc, we propose the addition of a diluted form of the mineral magnesium hydroxide to the existing water flow at the power generation station in Tufts Cove. The treated water will be released into Halifax Harbour through the plant’s infrastructure.
The goal of this project is to explore whether adding an antacid to the ocean is a safe and effective way of deacidifying seawater and capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).
For more information on how this process works, please see our science pages, and for information on how we maintain safety, see our safety pages. To see information on the project’s current status, recent updates, or available data, see our project update page.
A Note From Mike, Our CEO
For many of us at Planetary, Halifax is home.
We see the impacts that climate change is already inflicting on our community: forest fires threaten homes and livelihoods, ocean acidification threatens fisheries, and storms grow increasingly frequent and intense each year. This year’s floods directly impacted several of our team members, and we saw firsthand how this year’s fires impacted many Nova Scotians.
We recognise that the idea of tackling climate change can feel overwhelming, complex, and a little scary. I’ve personally and directly experienced that anxiety.
The team at Planetary is determined to meet this challenge thoughtfully and carefully.
The time to act is now, and yet, nature is complex. We need to act quickly; but we cannot act in haste.
We believe that our ocean alkalinity enhancement process is a part of the solution to the puzzle, one which can help reduce ocean acidification in Halifax and reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. This project is the first step into verifying that belief.
As we develop and test the process, my personal commitment is to listen carefully to other Halifax community members and be fully transparent, so that all interested parties can participate in the co-development of potential projects.
What is the Project?
Planetary is working with Nova Scotia Power and independent researchers at Dalhousie University to conduct a multi-year study on Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) as a climate change solution.
The next stage of this study moves the research out of the lab and into Halifax Harbour for small-scale field trials in which Planetary uses small amounts of magnesium hydroxide to neutralise the acid in the seawater travelling through the Tufts Cove generating station cooling system.
Trials like these allow oceanographers, biologists, and chemists to study our method of OAE, and to investigate whether it is possible to remove some of the CO2 pollution from Halifax Harbour and the Bedford Basin.
Magnesium hydroxide is shipped to the project site in dry, powdered form. It is added to a mixing tank, where it is hydrated into a slurry using seawater from the harbour. Planetary’s Site Automation and Monitoring unit pumps the slurry into a holding tank and then through a thin pipe to the existing outfall, where the alkalinity is released, diluted, and carried into the receiving waters. Once released into the harbour, the magnesium hydroxide neutralises dissolved CO2 and, over the course of weeks and months, the lower concentration of CO2 in the surface layer of the water pulls additional CO2 from the atmosphere into the water.
Samples are taken regularly at several points upstream and downstream of the addition point as well as in the larger harbour, and continually-operating sensors monitor water chemistry throughout the system.
Field trials began at Tufts Cove in September 2023 and intermittent dosing continued for approximately two months. The trial then entered a data analysis period. All study results will be validated by independent third parties, and Planetary will publish data analyses for access by all interested parties.
Halifax was chosen as a project site in part due to its connection with Planetary: the company is incorporated here, and a number of our employees live here, including our Chief Ocean Scientist. However, it was primarily chosen because Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia are leaders in climate and ocean studies.
The ambitious HalifACT Initiative and its goals to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050 demonstrate a desire to act and to build resilient communities in the face of climate change.
These factors make Nova Scotia a potential hub and global leader for OAE research and development.
Planetary’s work in the area builds upon the results of ocean trials that have been successfully conducted all around the world – in Australia, Florida, and the UK – as well as Planetary’s earlier research with Dalhousie University.
What are the Intended Benefits of the Project in Halifax?
The Nova Scotia study seeks to refine the models that Dalhousie has developed and to validate the safety of Planetary’s OAE process. These carefully monitored trials will also contribute to the study of the role the Northwest Atlantic ocean plays in regulating climate patterns.
Over time, if these studies proceed, ocean alkalinity enhancement will provide the following benefits in Halifax:
Carbon dioxide will be removed from the atmosphere and stored safely for 100,000 years. This can help Halifax achieve its goals for permanent carbon removal as outlined in the HalifACT Initiative.
The reduction of local ocean acidity helps to protect the area from harmful increases in acidity due to global warming, including potential future damage to the fishing industry.
Planetary has been working with Dalhousie University and other groups at the forefront of the marine scientific community for years, and together we are transforming the Halifax area into one of the leading global hubs for ocean and climate health.
This research helps raise the profile of Halifax as a case study in addressing climate change and ocean acidification, increasing local discussion on all aspects of environmental conservation.
As Planetary builds upon our techniques, and in collaboration with the local community, we anticipate job creation in project management, operations, science, and verification. Long term, carbon removal is set to become a huge industry – likely larger than the existing oil and gas industries – and Halifax is positioned to become a leader in all forms of carbon removal in addition to ocean alkalinity enhancement.
Planetary’s collaboration with Dalhousie University and other leading ocean research organisations around the world provides students with excellent opportunities. In addition to strictly theoretical learning, in-the-field experience may be possible with the continued expansion of Planetary’s OAE work.
Local Oversight and Community Engagement
The Nova Scotia project plan has been developed in collaboration with Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Power, and in consultation with all relevant municipal, provincial, and federal government bodies. The regulatory agencies have declared that there are no environmental assessment triggers at play in the planned field trial, and that the trial is not considered a modification to the Tufts Cove Generating Station permit. Future trials may trigger a required assessment, and Planetary would follow all required processes to secure the permit, including all requirements for public comment.
Planetary is hopeful that the current field trial will begin a process of engagement with the local communities. The goal of this engagement is to co-develop a plan for learning whether, and under what circumstances, we should proceed with deploying alkalinity additions at increasing scale in Halifax and around Nova Scotia.
We have reached out to Mi’kmaq First Nations and Indigenous programs and groups in the Halifax Harbour and the Bedford Basin region, as well as several fishing groups, and are inviting active and early engagement with all community members to help shape our approach, both now and in the future.
Our collaboration with the community will go above and beyond what is required by law and convention to fully capture the unique concerns of local people. Together, we plan to establish a framework for co-creating a shared future of positive environmental impact in the Nova Scotia region.
Opportunities for Getting Involved
We encourage you to stay involved and in touch. Please see our Nova Scotia FAQs page for answers to questions that we have received from the local Nova Scotia community. If there is a topic that you would like to hear more about, or if you would like to set up a direct conversation, please contact us at NovaScotia_Project@planetarytech.com.
- Data analysis is ongoing following an eight-week trial. Once complete, analyses will be released publicly.
To stay fully up to date with all Nova Scotia site developments, we welcome you to sign up for our dedicated newsletter.