Why Carbo Culture Exists

Pia Henrietta K
Aug 16, 2019 · 3 min read

Us two stubborn founders met at Singularity Uni’s flagship program in 2013. Chris and I were both sure that if climate change is not dealt with, not a lot of other things are going to matter either.

Fast forward a few years, and we reunited to tackle the trillion-ton carbon dioxide debt looming in the atmosphere. We met with a professor from the Hawaii natural energy institute, who was far ahead of his own time with his inventions in carbonising biomass waste. This is how we found the first version of the technology Carbo Culture uses today, which we‘ve now developed further, started trials with and defined business cases for.

A planetary change is here.

No one escaped the latest IPCC report bringing forth the devastating news of reaching 1.5c warming already now. A planetary change is here and it’s very difficult to reverse. It will change our habitat and alter our way of life in ways that we can not yet comprehend.

Land use change, in the report’s limelight, is an interesting area with both huge problems such as deforestation, peat land use, wetlands reforming, soil erosion and more, but a huge opportunity as well. This is because land use could actually remove an equivalent to a third of human emissions out of the atmosphere annually (Griscom et al, 2017).

According to the UN, we have an average of 60 harvests left until we have depleted all of our soils, which feed 95% of the global population. Yes, that includes you too! And where do your cells get nutrients from if not the soil? We’re more tied to the soil microbiome (also with our own microbiome) than we fully understand. And yet every year we lose $100B worth of soil to erosion and degradation. This will accelerate to the trillions by mid-century.

We didn’t start working with a soil technology. We started working with a carbon invention.

The Carbo Culture mission is to remove a Gigaton of CO2 annually by 2030.

Our novel technology lets us convert bio-based waste into functional, pure carbons. In essence — we take waste like nut shells, put them in our reactor, and they come out as biocarbons, or biochar. The biocarbons stay stable for hundreds of years, keeping them out of the natural carbon cycle. According to IPCC, this is one of the ways to safely sequester carbon.

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Carbo Culture Carbon. It will stay stable and grounded for hundreds of years.

What’s unique about our technology is that we can process a variety of biomass wastes right on the spot. Our “manufacturing 2.0” approach means that we can transport our agile little factory right next to the deposit of the waste, and on a global scale, this means anywhere. No need for new forest for the biochar, no need for trucks driving the waste around.

What excites me the most, besides trapping the carbon and putting it to use, (we have very cool material companies buying our carbon which we’ll tell you more about very soon!) is the use of it in soils. Our soils are depleting at record speed. But when this carbon is added to nutrients and then to the soil, it brings new structure and surface area, and helps the soil microbial life thrive — essentially, helping the soil to regenerate.

The added leverage from adding biochar to the soils does not end in making the soil healthier and helping the soil take and store more carbon in the form of roots and healthy biology.

Biochar has actually been shown (Cayuela & al., Nature 2013) to have a significant impact on denitrification: a 10–90% reduction limiting Nitrous Oxide (N2O) which has roughly 250x the global warming potential (GWP) to CO2.

So this is what we do and why we do it. We clean the air to heal the soils.

Let us know if you’re up for joining our mission of Culturing Carbon: https://carboculture.typeform.com/to/tglAui

xo, Henrietta


Hacking the carbon cycle

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