What if there is a way to capture carbon from the air and safely store it for 1000 years or more?
What if the cost of capturing the carbon is near zero - with no new technology needed?
What if the cost of storing (sequestering) the carbon is low?
What if the cost will go down as EV transportation ramps up?
What if this can be done on a massive scale promptly and globally?
And, what if this can be done morally to not encourage more carbon being added to the air?
Finally, what if this is exciting not because of complex technology but because of simplicity and efficiency?
Over ten years of research by the scientists and engineers on this team demonstrate a viable path forward!
Both detailed research and real world experiments validate the concept.
We are ready to demonstrate and execute Proof of Concept projects!
We propose the sequestering of crop residues to capture a significant fraction, greater than 10%, of the present US carbon emission through disposal in deep oceans below the thermocline or in river deltas. Analysis indicates costs under $100 per ton at 92% efficiency.
A comment from the director:
"Over a decade of significant research by this team, combined with the X-Prize and Musk Foundations' serious commitment, means a real solution is available NOW.
I called Gregory the day before the X-PRIZE live announcement, we both watched it, and then decided instantly to jump in with all 4 feet!"
Elon Musk and the X-Prize Foundation are serious about carbon sequestration. So are we. Over a decade of research points to cost-effective methods that can be deployed immediately with current technology and enhanced with soon-to-be available technology. We have formed a multidisciplinary team and are engaged in developing real world proof of concept of a massively scalable and economically viable method to capture and sequester large amounts of carbon for up to 1000 years.
Carbon sequestration is an important, urgent, and noble mission!
Our solution is elegant and powerful. Massively scalable with existing technology, we hack the carbon cycle to create the most benefit in the shortest period of time. With the ability to capture a gigaton of carbon a year from just one country, and with an efficiency over 90%, incremental improvements in the technology and methodology can raise the efficiency to 95% or even more.
By hacking the carbon cycle, we achieve the benefits of solar energy, biology, and even gravity itself to do the heavy lifting. In addition to reducing the conflicts between agriculture and the environment, our bold approach only becomes more efficient as the transportation system becomes more electrified with renewable energy. The future potential for even more efficiency grows by the design and deployment of unique customized transportation and deployment systems.
Unlike other systems that are theoretical, all of the elements of our system have been tested and cost analyzed over a 20-year period, including real world ongoing experiments and research. While other systems end up being complex energy-consuming machines that may or may not work, and certainly are not efficient or viable on a large scale, ours represents the Occam's Razor with an edge that becomes ever sharper as technology improves!
David Mitchell is a NASA award-winning entrepreneur who has published topics on the Internet, space, virtual reality and telepresence. He is a past member of the Citizens' Advisory Council on National Space Policy with a lifetime of experience in private space development, emergency preparedness, and advanced communications.
Gregory Benford is a Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction author and astrophysicist. Professor Emeritus at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCI, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a visiting Fellow at Cambridge University., He has also served as an advisor to the Department of Energy, NASA and the White House Council on Space Policy.
Ekaterina Mitchell is an executive in the biotech longevity industry with extensive experience in supply chain logistics, and sustainable farming using vertical hydroponic growing systems.
Gigaton sequestration direction, administration, controls, auditing, and accounting.
James is the COO and Cofounder of Launch Factory, a San Diego-based venture studio. He previously served as the Chief of Staff for the Technology Engineering division of Google’s Hardware Product Area.
James holds an MBA , an M.S. in Predictive Analytics, and a B.S. in Multidisciplinary Studies
Alana Bradley is a successful management consultant with a strong engineering background. Her skills include project management, mentoring, training, and data analytics.
Alana holds a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame
Robert Aston is the president of Ocean Presence Technologies and Director of The Manta Network. As well as founding the Santa Cruz County Water Quality Program and Laboratory, he designed, manufactured and deployed state-of-the-art underwater high-definition video systems worldwide, working with many marine research, large aquarium, educational and government agencies.
Hardip Passananti is a biological scientist, book editor, and intellectual property attorney. She has extensive experience defending and asserting patents in federal courts, as well as doing freedom-to-operate analysis for large biotech companies. She currently advises a number of biotech and start up companies with their business and IP needs.
Thomas H. Keyworth is a US Coast Guard Auxiliarist with an emphasis in marine safety and environmental protection plus a certified environmental sound monitoring specialist. He also engineers and implements original aquascaping and aquaponics projects and is an experienced IT and social media specialist.
Scott Wingate is the founder of the Magna Transportation Group which specializes in heavy and over-dimensional freight related to Heavy Commercial and Infrastructure Construction. He has worked in private equity environments as a finance executive for fast growing platform companies ranging in size from $50M to $800M in revenues.
F. Scott Duncan has been practicing in the maritime industry for 50 years with a decade of sea time. Scott co-founded Duncan Shoemaker & Associates, a marine consulting and survey group which has since expanded offices to rapidly cover the U.S. West Coast and internationally to serve a global customer base.
Luke Aronson is a marine biology student, photographer, and ocean enthusiast with a passion for environmental conservation. He has held volunteer and managerial positions at the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Dennis Kelly Public Aquarium, and has been a part of endangered species repopulation and oceanic monitoring projects. Luke will be attending UC San Diego in 2021.
Oliver Irving is a British film director and writer living in New York. Having conducted extensive research into the fields of ecology and environmentalism during the development of his first film 'New World' (2003), he went on to write and direct the films 'How To Be' (2009) and 'Ghost Team'(2016).
A field of corn catches carbon from our air quite efficiently. That field captures about 400 times as much carbon as humanity annually puts into the entire column of air above the field, from ground to space. Sequestering corn residue after harvest is far easier than taking such quantities industrially from the air above.
Where to put such gathered bales of corn residue? The deep ocean—which naturally receives huge quantities of biomass from the land, carried by rivers. Existing analysis shows such carbon will not return to the atmosphere for many centuries, perhaps 1000 years. Doing this violates no treaties. It is simply adjusting the world carbon cycle to speed up a natural process—organic matter flowing downhill in waterways, into the ocean.
This idea is 20 years old, first proposed by Benford & Metzger. Since then, lab experiments and direct placement and observation of a test corn residue bale in the deep Pacific have already been done and are continuing.
The great advantages of sequestering carbon from crop residues are that it:
(1) uses biomass that is now mostly left to rot in the fields
(2) demands no new land, leaving natural ecosystems intact
(3) uses residues that can be gathered and shipped with the same equipment used to bring in the crop, made easier as they need not be cleanly handled
(4) requires no new technologies
(5) lessens the conflicts between agriculture and the environment
(6) creates blue-collar skilled jobs
(7) helps justify infrastructure enhancement
(8) accelerates the benefits of transportation of goods via electric trucks and renewable energy
(9) repurposes older ships for new use
(10) potentially helps create deep water reefs and increasing productivity for the thin populations of animals in the deepest oceans
(11) available crop residues scale with population growth, since food production scales with population growth, and
(12) is a post emission process, not industrial.
Farming is the largest scale human activity, covering about 10% of the globe’s land area. We estimate that the USA alone can sequester 1.2 billion tons (1+ Gigatons), including the major farmed crops. America has the largest agricultural volumes and water-work networks in the world. Harvesting the crop residue already present each year in USA is simpler because the interconnected infrastructure is vast and able. Moving it occurs after the crop harvest, when labor is more available and transports are uncrowded.
We estimate that the rest of the world can sequester 6.2 billion tons of crop wastes. Compare this to current emissions of about 35 billion tons. CROPS could capture about 20% of the world’s annual emissions, every year. Each year we don’t deposit such waste out of reach of our air, we lose that opportunity.
Farm waste disposal promises to lower such costs, with political bonuses. The $10– $20 billion per year spent to sequester farm residue will go to the American heartland, into the hands of ordinary laboring people such as farmers and truck drivers. It demands no new infrastructure and is easily adjusted if unwanted effects occur.
A program of domestic carbon credits exchanged in a market could drive efficiencies in disposal. A 2020 paper by Strand & Benford gave estimated sequestration expenses of less than $100/ton of CO2 equivalents delivered to the deep oceans. Compare this to industrial methods of simply removing CO2, at about $1000/ton— with no sequestration.
As a bonus, it will give hardworking people a part that they, too, can do something active about climate change. And because farm residues scale plausibly with population, as does energy use, this sequestering method will then keep pace with the predicted rise of our numbers to ten billions within a half century.
We conclude with a view of the corn stover bale deposited 2.2 kilometers below the Pacific surface, over a 100 km offshore Monterey Bay. This has been in an ongoing research experiment for a decade, performed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute