No longer content to comb the bottom of the ocean floor on their spindly tube feet, sea urchins have let their willingness to help save the planet be known to scientists.
According to the London’s Mirror newspaper, an accidental find by a British physicist sea urchins use fine nickel particles found in the water to harvest carbon dioxide, which they then use to build their exoskeletons. If scientist can apply this same principal on a large scale, it may be possible to significantly reduce or eliminate harmful buildups of CO2 in our atmosphere.
Gaurav Bhaduri, a PhD student at England’s Newcastle University told the Mirror that nickel is reusable and inexpensive, making it an ideal element to work with to absorb carbon dioxide. “What our discovery offers is a real opportunity for industries such as power stations and chemical processing plants to capture all their waste CO2 before it ever reaches the atmosphere and store it as a safe, stable and useful product,” says Bhaduri.
This find could spell good news for scientists who have been trying for years to find solutions that will combat the continued buildup of greenhouse gas emissions which some studies link to global warming, climate shifts, and melting of polar icecaps – all of which affect plant and animal life around the planet.
Since preventing greenhouse gas emissions is not possible in the age of heavy industry, ecologists and environmental specialists have been recently been considering the viability of employing a carbon-negative strategy to capture the carbon and repurpose it into other products or storing it away deep inside the earth. Though it’s a good idea in theory, the sheer magnitude of such an undertaking is staggering, not to mention the amount of equipment that would be required to facilitate such an operation.
Typically, we think of animals as contributing to the greenhouse gas problem rather than eliminating them, so the sea urchin discovery makes for a delightful change of pace. We’d bet the urchins are pretty happy too since it may keep them from becoming somebody’s meal.