Start-up Verdox has officially launched after being awarded an $80 million commitment for direct carbon capture and removal from three investment firms: Prelude Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital and Bill Gate’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The revolutionary electrochemical technology was pioneered by MIT’s Professor T. Alan Hatton and Dr. Sahag Voskian.
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Back on April 8, 2020, Verdox was awarded $499,900 under the Special Project Program of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The project was entitled “Electro-swing [Absortion] for High Efficiency Direct Air Capture” to develop a scalable, proof of concept (POC) for direct air capture (DAC) prototype with a deliverable date of April 7, 2022. The POC was for technology that would employ electrochemical cells to capture and release carbon that would generate electro-swing absorption. This breakthrough technology prevents the need for the standard heat and water carbon capture method, creating a new model for the carbon capture industry.
ESG Today noted:
“The high energy efficiency and scalability of Verdox’s technology could enable the company to play a major role in addressing the carbon removal challenge. This innovation has provided a paradigm change for both industrial and air capture – and the Verdox team has made great strides to reduce the concept to economical commercial practice.”Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures
Removing CO2 from the air before it’s released through novel electro-swing absorption technology, would be worth every penny it may cost. Picture a mammoth battery sucking up a torrent of gaseous waste as the electric battery is charging up, and then releasing it safely when the battery is discharged so it can be stored underground as rock, or utilized to manufacture products. This advanced technology will require 70% less energy than existing technology-based carbon capture methods. At this time, Verdox’s test bed is only functional in the lab. The $80 million will be used to further develop the proof of concept.
At the World Economic Forum‘s virtual Davos Agenda event on January 19, 2022, Bill Gates stressed how critical it was that there be a pairing of “new technologies with the big companies, that have skills to build those things at scale.” He went on to stress that this was the “urgent agenda.”
John Kerry also attended the Davos Agenda event and emphasized the NOAA warnings about 2021 being one of the most catastrophic years on record. “The NOAA report should scare anyone. We really are seeing tipping points arrived at and the imperative to move faster really could not be greater.”
In John Doerr’s book Speed & Scale, An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now, the OKR (objective and key result) of 10 billion tons carbon (GtC) that must be removed from the atmosphere each year, in addition to curbing existing carbon emissions. “As things stand, our net zero objective — 10 GtC of annual carbon removal — is a truly audacious goal.” Doerr goes on to explain that both engineered solutions, (Verdox’s innovative electro-swing absorption DAC falls in this category), and natural carbon drawdown solutions, (reforestation, aforestation, rewilding, biodiversity restoration, increased soil health, etc) are required. “What makes this challenge really difficult, almost implausibly so, is the colossal scale of the job.”
On the nature-based side of the coin, trailblazer Thomas Crowther (Assistant Professor of Global Ecosystem Ecology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland and World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader) recently gave a Countdown TED Talk about restoring biodiversity on the .9 billion hectares of ideal land that’s been identified and mapped out. And that doing so would drawdown 30% of the existing legacy load carbon stuck in the atmosphere that’s causing global warming. Crowther announced that he founded Restor, a new open data platform network equipped with a machine learning model powered by Google Earth Engine and Google Cloud, for the purpose of helping “anyone be part of ecological restoration,” even homeowners who convert their high-maintenance, pesticide-covered monoculture turf lawns, to dense biodiverse no mow lawns.
Don’t Look Up launched on Netflix December 24, 2021. The satirical parody, written, produced and directed by Adam McKay, set the record for the most views in one week, and quickly became the #2 most watched Original Netflix film of all times, with 321.52 million hours streamed in the first 28 days. Peter Isherwell, portrayed by Mark Rylance, is the villain in this classic film about Earth’s destruction at the hands of a profit-seeking tech giant. The scientists’ (LeonardoDicaprio, Rob Morgan and Jennifer Lawrence) alarmed and urgent warnings, and the public’s blind faith in technology, left viewers woke to the perils of betting our lives on technology as our savior. On February 8, 2022, Oscar nominations will be announced and the tech carbon capture industry will have a better idea about what they’re up against in trying to convince the world that they can solve the climate crisis on their own.
We definitely need tech carbon capture and removal solutions for pulling out CO2 before it’s released, as well as direct air capture for fossil fuel companies to drawdown decades of excessive carbon emissions. But the main point in John Doerr’s Speed & Scale, is that we need ALL the many solutions that he earmarked in his climate action plan. And even with all hands on deck, and the diverse solutions up and running, along with the four accelerators, it’s still an audacious goal.
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