From Airbnb to Cleaner Air

Technology |  2 min. read

From the people who brought us Airbnb and Dropbox, now comes cleaner air?

Well, maybe.

Y Combinator is the legendary (in the tech world) school for start-ups that helped businesses like Airbnb and Dropbox and Stripe, get their start in the world.  And now, Y Combinator is looking to jump start some innovation to help the world get a little cleaner.

The challenge Y Combinator is throwing down to this new round of start-ups?  Carbon capture – the work of taking carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air (CO2 being a significant contributor to the warming of the planet).

Here’s what’s big about that:

The work of keeping our planet livable for all of us – while at the same time, working to make sure all of us have the opportunity for a good life on this planet – that’s not the work of any one organization, or country, or industry, or person – that’s work for all of us.

Did you know?

While we’re working on the “moonshot” ideas, there IS plenty of good news on a smaller scale:  As we’ve told you in recent stories, the same petrochemicals used to make plastics, are being used to clean up plastics – in the ocean and up in space.  And innovations in refining fuels — like gasoline and diesel — mean cleaner burning and more miles per gallon.

Those four categories?

  1. “Re-engineering” plankton (those tiny, tiny ocean creatures) to live in parts of the ocean where they don’t now, and having them soak up carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

  2. Accelerating the existing process of rocks, reacting to CO2, and eventually “locking up” the carbon dioxide in the form of mineral bicarbonate (because in nature, this takes thousands of years).

  3. Using enzymes that dissolve CO2 on contact, either to actively filter carbon dioxide out of existing emissions, or passively react to CO2 in the air and water.

  4. More plankton.  But this time, growing (and absorbing carbon dioxide) in vast ponds creating by flooding parts of the Earth’s desert.

Workable?  Maybe.  Crazy?  Possibly.  But plenty of everyday life today (the light bulb, the car, the smartphone) sounded nuts to most people – until, there it was.  So we say, welcome to the work Y Combinator.

And if you have an idea about one of their ideas, or a different angle on cleaning up carbon dioxide, or anything else in the air that shouldn’t be there, Y Combinator is ready to hear from you.