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☁️ Making Things from Air

Climate Tech Cocktails

Photo by engin akyurt / Unsplash

Host: Matt Myers
Guest: Greg Constantine | Co-Founder & CEO | Air Company
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:41] MM: “Air Company’s priority is to utilize as much CO2 as possible to slow the momentum of climate change, using consumer goods [like vodka and perfume] in the near term as an educational tool to show the world what is possible. Since launching Air Company, Constantine and his team have won awards from NASA, The United Nations and XPRIZE. Air Company was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Products (2019) and Most Innovative Companies (2020), and was named one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2020.”

[24:02] GC: “One of the types of alcohol that we make being ethanol can be applied to a lot of different industries. We decided to apply it to the spirits and fragrance industry. First, because it's with the volumes of product needed at the lowest, where the value in the product is quite high. And when you're creating small amounts of volume in the short term with new technology, and you're a startup, you're trying to try to maximize the value you can get for that product because revenue helps any early stage company. On top of that, the ethanol which we create tends itself to the consumer industries because of how easily purifiable it is.”

[27:00] GC: “Imagination is everything. It's what moves the world forward. And could we have just jumped straight to fuels or chemical products? And it would have taken a lot longer, […] it would have been a much more capital intensive project. And we want to show the world that you can create these products, because we believe that in order for real change to happen, the public needs to understand. It starts and ends with the people, because they will influence the industry that'll influence legislation as well. And the best way to get the people to understand what it is, is through these beautiful products.”

[28:54] GC: “These products are our R&D, because the same alcohols that we make can be applied to the industrial industries, […] but you need to be able to produce that amount and you need to be cost effective over time. […] On our pathway towards getting to those, where we can have up to 10% of global CO2 emissions being reduced if we're applied to all of the industry verticals we can, which is billions of tons annually for one single technology. That's true impact. But it's going to take time to get there. And we're taking the approach of let's work towards getting there with steps along the way.”

[33:01] GC: “We designed the bottle to be designed for an afterlife, for a second life. Because reusability is one of the highest forms of sustainability. If you don't have to recreate, that's a massive win. So we design a label that has the lightest tack that you can have on it. It's all biodegradable [and with] vegetable inks […] and so that we encourage folks to actually remove those labels and reuse that bottle in their home, whether it's a vase, whether it's a water bottle, I've seen people you fill it with olive oil and continue to use it.”

[36:19] GC: “Our entire facilities run on renewable electricity […], which is a smaller concerted effort that you can make. But waste is top [of mind]. I think that we're thankful that the only byproduct of our process is oxygen. The water we recycle back into our process. So the underpinning for the technology was really a way to mimic photosynthesis, to do what a tree does, just faster, remove CO2 and put out oxygen. Our system […] does just that with our byproducts essentially being these alcohols and water.

[41:18] GC: “We're a carbon technology company, period. And the innovations that we work on, we're hopeful that they can live here on earth […]. [However] some of the innovations that we're working on, we're hopeful that they can be spawned into things that might be utilized in outer space. So we actually, just under a month ago, won the NASA CO2 conversion challenge for converting CO2 into glucose, as well.”

[41:55] GC: “You've got groups like NASA that are seeking out companies that are converting carbon dioxide for the reason that […] the Martian atmosphere is 98% CO2. So they're looking for ways and solutions for things that can be feedstocks. But also, a lot of the technologies over history that have been developed for space applications are ones that ended up being translated to applications here on earth as well. And if you think about all the sugar that's used in the world, and some of the biggest industries in the world that utilize sugar, and how that sugar is created, an application that started from a project with NASA can potentially then really have a large carbon neutral or negative impact here on earth as well.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google (Original Title: "Air Company: Greg Constantine")
🕰️ 59 min | 🗓️ 02/15/2022
✅ Time saved: 57 min

Additional Links:
Climate Tech Cocktails Newsletter

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