4 February 2013 Last updated at 21:57 Et
By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News
A close up of the skeleton of a sea urchin which could help capture and store carbon
Researchers say that the natural ability of sea urchins to absorb CO2 could be a model for an effective carbon capture and storage system.
Newcastle University scientists discovered by chance that urchins use the metal nickel to turn carbon dioxide into shell.
They say the technique can be harnessed to turn emissions from power plants into the harmless calcium carbonate.
The research is in the journal, Catalysis Science and Technology.
“The beauty of a nickel catalyst is that it carries on working regardless of the pH….It is also very cheap, a thousand times cheaper than carbon anhydrase”
Gaurav Bhaduri Newcastle University
Many sea creatures convert carbon dioxide in the waters into calcium carbonate which is essentially chalk. Species such as clams, oysters and corals use it to make their shells and other bony parts. (more).