After a long hiatus from the blog, providing a quick update as a historical record on a side project of mine.
A little under 2 years ago I was reading articles about climate change, proposed solutions, and active removal of carbon from our atmosphere. A friend of mine has a background in chemical engineering and happens to have spent most of his career working to remove carbon (and other pollutants) from the waste stream of industrial plants. During an evening around the back yard fire pit I started asking him about the science behind this and it started my problem solving mind running. Eventually leading me to the thesis that the way to tackle this problem at scale and in the timeframe needed (the next 10 years or less) was to build a network of distributed Direct Air Capture (DDAC) systems that could be retrofitted onto existing global infrastructure such that we were actively removing CO2 from our atmosphere in small bites (<1MT/year) all around the world and piggy backing the opex on the existing infrastructure.
Some structure was put around this concept and initial research was started. Shortly after, a new leadership role was also started at Informatica. Which essentially paused all the side project research.
Fast forward 2 years and we find ourselves in a much different world and I find myself with time to be devoted to the side project again. So what has changed in the past 2 years? Simply put, and scary, the world is falling behind on the climate change problem. The models of climate change are being proven to have been way to conservative. And the United States specifically…well, there too many current issues there to list. And now I agree with others that we will need multiple solutions pulling CO2 from the atmosphere all working together to fix this.
But, there is some positive aspects that have occured over my 2 year hiatus. The people who understand and believe the science have also swelled at the ground level. And luckily these people are problem solvers. When forced to stay at home during a pandemic, problem solves don’t spend all their time binge watching Netflix but invest that time to work on solving the biggest problem facing humanity. A whole community, AirMiners, has been formed around just active carbon removal from the atmosphere. And so much information is being shared that by so many smart people, that 25% of the problem I was facing before with my initial research…finding readings to education myself and people to speed that learning process…has now been fixed.
So I’m off and running again on my initial research. The general idea remains the same, but now there are so many other companies that have started on different pieces of the DDAC system that I have in mind, that I can focus my energy on the areas I can provide the most value: designing a distributed solution to a big problem, building a business model that supports that solution.
Unlike other technology products that I’ve been involved in bringing to market in the past, this carbon removal community realizes that this isn’t about building the next unicorn company, it’s bigger than that. It’s about saving the planet for humanity’s future. Thus, I’m thankful for all the people who are smarter than me who are helping speed my education here (these are many broad and deep topic areas involved). And I plan on recognizing all those who help along the way here and share more details of my personal journey in the near future.