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Ocean fertilization firm Climos gains financial backing

Start-up Climos, which wants to experiment with large plankton blooms to mitigate climate change, gets $3.5 million from Braemar Energy Ventures.

Climos, a start-up that plans to mitigate climate change by stimulating plankton growth, said on Wednesday that it has raised a series A venture capital round of $3.5 million.

Braemar Energy Ventures led the round, which also included participation from investor Elon Musk, now chairman of Tesla Motors.

As previously reported, the funding will be used to develop and test Climos' ocean iron fertilization technique, in which an iron compound is put into the sea to stimulate the growth of plankton.

As the plankton grow, they take the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Over time, some of that plankton die and sink deeper in the ocean, thereby storing the carbon dioxide.

Ocean iron fertilization tests have taken place in the past two decades but have not been fully tested as an effective carbon storage technology. Climos intends to make money by selling the sequestered carbon as carbon offsets.

Planktos, a company with a similar business plan, last month folded because of a lack of funding and what it called a "disinformation campaign."

Indeed, the practice of ocean fertilization remains controversial, as it has brought criticism and skepticism from environmental groups.

Climos, staffed by renowned scientists, has called for a code of ethics in doing ocean experiments, saying it intends to work with permitting authorities before doing tests, CEO Dan Whaley said last month.

The company also intends to use the funding to hold a series of scientific workshops in preparation for a demonstration experiment.

In a statement, Braemar Managing Director Dennis Costello said Climos is one of the "most interesting investments in Braemar's history."

"While OIF (ocean iron fertilization) has been well-researched over the past 20 years by some of the world's top scientists, no private company has been able to combine the scientific expertise with the business management skills that Dan Whaley has assembled with his team," Costello said. "They have created a strong business plan for advancing this technology while addressing the questions surrounding it, which led to our funding of the company."