Startups tackling climate change
Since mid-March, more than 200 U.S. startups have eliminated thousands of jobs since the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic affected some parts of the U.S. economy. Even if they’re not prone to the upcoming fiscal uncertainties, the most resilient are entrepreneurs who develop solutions for tackling climate change, from agtech to decarbonization to renewable energy and more.
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A healthy infusion of $80 million was announced in mid-March by Chicago-based alternative protein startup Nature’s Fynd, taking its total to $113 million. This year the organization plans to double its employees, to more than 100 workers.
In Pittsburgh, RoadRunner Recycling, an artificial intelligence tech firm that automates routing for industrial recycling operations, raised $28.6 million in a Series C round aimed to help it grow this year into up to 10 new markets.
And this week, the manufacturer of a “clean combustion” engine that burns renewable fuels and can be inserted into existing diesel trucks, ClearFlame Engine Technologies, closed its initial $3 million funding round. These are the solutions which are in service helping the climate during the crisis.
No one will actually take initiative unless they choose to expect that things can be changed around. But secondly, because humans are extremely ingenious creatures who produce tools, and some of the strongest among us are completely focused finding technological tools that can help us escape climate disaster.
This is not to suggest that we should keep spewing CO2 into the environment at our current pace and innovate our way out of the issue. The experts agree on this. But a growing number of them have also tend to recognize that technologies to absorb or remove pollution from the environment as a by-product of manufacturing operations would be an important part of the equation.
It is evident that climate change has devastating effects. We’ve also seen heart-breaking viral news: a starving polar bear, whales washed up on shore with car parts in their stomachs, the worst wildfires in California’s history, and the worst tornadoes in Alabama in 30 years. The United Nations Climate Change Commission warned the world of irreversible climate effects as early as 2030. Despite mounds of indisputable evidence and the persistent toll on humans, biodiversity, and the climate, world leaders remain hesitant to make urgent and transformative reforms in favour of economic development. It is also important for businesses, individuals, organisations, and local governments to join together to push change at the grassroots level.
In order to pursue these ideas, entrepreneurs, as always, dream big. And as ever, these entrepreneurs face serious headwinds when mankind attempts to do something new and innovative. VCs, exhausted by earlier clean tech failures, have been unable to participate in the market, although there are a few exceptions.
According to figures from the research firm Pitchbook, total funding for clean-tech start-ups dropped over much of the last decade. In 2018, $6.6 billion was spent in clean tech, around 15 percent of what went to start-up software. Carbon-removal start-ups had a tiny fraction of that, reports The New York Times.
As concerns of climate change increase, however more investment is beginning to stream into the sector. Oil and gas businesses have however filled some of the funding gap, and top accelerator Y Combinator has also recently released a call for applications from founders focusing on carbon capture.
News of climate change is depressing, but it is exciting to have the creativity of the founders working to turn things around.
Nevertheless, amid these obstacles, the reward of success will be enormous: not only a strong business, but a more prosperous environment and a better world for all of humanity.
Start-ups in technology are created by founders who are curious about addressing problems in their everyday life and around them in the world, and there is no lack of start-ups who have jumped in to play their part in the global battle against climate change.
Electricity and heat generation, transportation, and manufacturing and development are the leading causes of climate change, according to a revealing CNN report.
Here are the few examples of start-up companies who are fighting the battle against the climate change
Carbon Engineering is building technologies to capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere and to use that CO2 in the synthesis of clean transportation fuels that displace crude oil. Carbon Engineering’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) system integrates two main cycles – The first cycle is the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere in a device called an “air contactor” using an alkaline hydroxide solution. Second cycle regenerates the capture liquid used in the air contactor and delivers pure CO2 as an end product. In 2015, Carbon Engineering started operations of its full end-to-end pilot plant, located in Squamish, B.C. Facility is designed to capture roughly 500 tons of atmospheric CO2 per year. Backed by Bill Gates and N. Murray Edwards. Carbon Engineering’s groundbreaking Direct Air Capture technology can be used to create large-scale carbon removal from the atmosphere.
Climeworks is an ETH spin-off company that develops a carbon dioxide (CO2) reclaiming system. Its product extracts carbon dioxide from ambient air. It builds three models based on the amount of CO2 extracted – Demonstrator (8kg extraction per day), Collector (135kg extraction per day) and Capture Plants (35kg extraction per hour). Its chief target markets are F&B companies that use CO2 for aeration in food processing and greenhouse owners. It also intends to enable the creation of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels using extracted CO2. Climeworks has also received financing from Gebert Rüf Stiftung, and Vigier Stiftung. Climeworks captures CO2 from air with the world’s first commercial carbon dioxide removal technology. Their direct air capture plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere, allowing customers to reverse their emissions and realize their climate goals.
Global Thermostat is a US based company focused on developing technology solutions for carbon capture. The company has developed a patented technology to capture CO2 directly from air or from industry smokestacks. The technology uses residual heat to capture more CO2 than power plants or industrial facilities emit. The captured CO2 has multiple applications such as carbonating beverages. Global Thermostat is commercializing its advanced, multi-patented technology to transform Carbon Dioxide from a global liability into an immense profit center.
Newlight has developed a method to produce a thermoplastic material called AirCarbon by combining air with methane-based greenhouse gas emissions. First, concentrated methane emissions are captured from places like farms, landfills and directed into Newlight’s patented conversion reactor. In next step, the carbon emissions are combined with air and a biocatalyst which pulls oxygen out of air and carbon & hydrogen from methane. At last step polymerization process takes place.
Carbicrete is a provider of technology solutions to concrete manufacturers. The company offers process & materials for the production of pre-cast concrete with less CO2 emissions. It leverages carbon activation technology which eliminates the need for cement in concrete manufacturing. Carbicrete is a cleantech company that develops innovative, low-cost building solutions that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Svante specializes in providing carbon capture solutions from the air. It offers a patented technology that traps carbon produced from the industries such as cement, steel, ammonia, aluminum, methanol, and hydrogen. The captured CO2 is concentrated, processed, and then released for storage or industrial use. Founded in 2007, Svante captures carbon dioxide directly from industrial sources at less than half the capital cost of existing carbon removal solutions.
C-Capture, a spin-off from the University of Leeds, developed a bottom-up approach to design solvent systems for the removal of CO2 from gas streams. The patented technology captures CO2 from methane gas streams as it passes through and upgrades biogas. Reversibly captures carbon dioxide from power stations, steel and cement production, and fermentation units. C-Capture designs world-leading chemical processes for the capture of carbon dioxide
Skytree offers a direct air capture technology enabling its users to capture carbon dioxide from the ambient air and concentrate it for use in greenhouse crop fertilization, algae production, and other industrial and personal activities. Skytree units filter CO2 from outdoor and indoor air and dispense it in concentrated form. The CO2 supply is clean, adjustable and continuous. Linked to a power source, their units can operate anywhere: in the middle of the ocean, in the desert, or at the heart of a city.
From waste management to clean energy, more and more startups are innovating to fight against climate change and protect our planet. Circular economy, waste and water management, air quality sensors are the main areas which are addressing the climate changes with outstanding technologies.
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An significant and dangerous issue facing all living things is climate change. As seen above, the rising market appetite to tackle climate change is reflected in various creative start-ups concerned about impacting change. Fortunately, leading industries have a considerable effect and effects on minimizing primary factors contributing to climate change, whether through their sourcing of raw materials, supply chain supplies, collection of suppliers, or influence on the tastes of buyers and consumers.
Technology and entrepreneurship must take a prominent role in finding ways to both alleviate and respond to climate change, as two of the most potent factors for accelerated impact and innovation.
So, yes, start-ups are willing to combat climate change and mitigate the risks currently facing mankind. But these businesses should have a conducive climate and good funding from the local and global community to be able to make an impact.
The following are the main components that make it possible:
- Access to quality government and private sector coaching and financing;
- Startup-friendly policies that encourage entrepreneurship and make the process of starting up and doing cleantech business as easy as possible;
- Visibility for existing solutions that encourage entrepreneurial lifestyles and make youth appealing to entrepreneurship.
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