that my moon shots are better than my presentation skills. I spend my time in
a laboratory. So you’ll have to bear
with my delivery. The two things we’re going to
talk about today are climate change and world poverty, and
as was set up by Astro, our climate change work
is well underway. And that has brought about a
secondary moon shot, which is to really take a bite out
of global poverty. First slide. So these are slides that I’m
sure you’ve all seen before. In the insert slide, we have
the atmospheric CO2 for the last 1,000 years and you can
see it’s been very stable. Until recently, the beginning of
the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels started to go up
and they’re going up at an accelerating rate. And there’s a direct correlation
to global temperature, which is the
outer slide, where it is stable for 1,000 years and has
started to go up as part of the Industrial Revolution and is
accelerating rapidly today. There are various plausible
outcomes of this. One very plausible outcome is
that we will see a rapid rise in sea level. And the worst fears of this
are that, as the global regions heat up and the ice caps
melt, we uncover trapped CO2 and methane in the
permafrost. And we start to heat up the deep ocean
methane hydrate. And just in the last six months
we’ve seen reports of massive areas of the Arctic
Ocean bubbling like champagne from methane coming up
from the ocean floor. So we run the danger of the
rapid change in temperature accelerating upon itself by
exposing the polar regions. And that, of course,
will accelerate the rise in sea level. So the impact of that is going
to be felt both by the developed world and the
developing world. And certainly, one possible
scenario, as presented by Google Earth mapping function
here, is that we could displace a billion people,
about 1/10 or more of the world population. And of course, what happens
there is, that starts to happen and that uses all
of our resources as a civilization, so we
can no longer address the core problem. In other words, if you have to
relocate a billion people, you’re not going to worry too
much about whether your energy was carbon neutral or not. You’re going to burn everything
in sight to relocate them. So the IEA, the International
Energy Agency, reported, as recently as November 9, that
they feel we have less than five years to address
this problem. So this is very urgent. So can anything be
done about this? Well it turns out we have been
collecting high resolution CO2 data for the last few decades,
and there is a curious fine structure in the data. Every summer the CO2 level of
the planet goes down for a little while and then
it goes back up. So aha, there’s some mechanism
here that we could possibly utilize that has been proven
to work on a global scale. What is it? Well, it turns out there is much
more land in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern
Hemisphere, so that when the sun heats up the Northern
Hemisphere and we start growing trees in the summertime,
we can actually reduce the amount of CO2
in the atmosphere. However, as winter comes on, the
CO2 level goes up and then industrialization just
marches along. So that’s pretty
straightforward. But most people don’t
understand the following facts. Plants absorb CO2 out of the
air through photosynthesis. We all understand that. But people don’t really
understand that it only works when they’re in sunlight and
when they’re growing. That’s the only time there’s a
net absorption of CO2 over any kind of reasonable timeframe. At night, plants like trees, are
still living so they have normal respirations that
are giving off CO2. In the fall and the wintertime,
they’re giving off CO2 and also shedding leaves
and needles and branches. And of course, when they die,
it all goes back into the atmosphere. So plants can absorb CO2, but
it all goes back into the environment when they die. So besides that, it turns out
there are two fundamental types of photosynthesis– C3 plants and C4 plants. The plants you are most familiar
with are C3 plants. But there are a few notable
C4 plants– corn, switch grass, sugar cane,
sorghum, which is a food crop, and other range grasses
are C4 plants. They can capture carbon dioxide
at about 10 times the effectivity per unit area of C3
plants, a huge increase in carbon capture per unit area. If you go one step further and
compare this to a mature or climax forest, that forest is
really not capturing any CO2 on net, because the trees have
already come to full height. So we compare a fast growing C4
crop to a mature forest, we can get 100x gain. And that’s manifested by seeing
soybeans which are a C3 crop, two feet tall at harvest,
giant miscanthus, 20 feet tall at harvest. Two feet
versus 20 feet and that’s all captured carbon. But when the plants die, it
all goes back into the atmosphere. So we have devised a new fuel
cycle to make use of this fast growing plant material, but
also capture the carbon. This is our negative carbon fuel
cycle and it starts with photosynthesis, growing plants
and preferably, a fast growing C4 plant that has a food
component, like corn or sugar cane or sorghum. We get the food off of it. We take 50% to 70% of the plant
mass into our biomass fractionator technology, which
I’ll talk about the moment, and produce a high octane
gasoline, which is technology that we have proven out. Then we take the remaining char,
which is inert and not plant friendly, as it comes off
the process and we have learned how to, in about two
weeks, turn that into a very powerful soil amendment. So it will go in the soil
and grow more plants. And this soil amendment has very
inert carbon in it that will stay in the soil for
hundreds of years. So that feeds back to
grow more crops. So now we have a wonderful
positive feedback loop. We grow food. We make fuel. We sequester carbon. We take CO2 out of the air, and
the thing is a positive feedback loop that increases
productivity as we run. I believe, a truly
marvelous idea. So another metric on this
is, how good is– how effective is the
soil amendment? If we take a unit of productive
land, such as an acre of corn, and we run
it through the biomass fractionator and make negative
carbon fuel and a soil enhancer, in four to eight
years, we can take unproductive land, like desert
soil, and upgrade it to productive land off of
that unit of land. So one acre of productive
farmland can create another acre of productive farmland in
four to eight years, a very rapid replication cycle. So we do this with three core
technologies, our biomass fractionator takes biomass in
and strips off accessible hydrocarbon radicals. All plants have a few loose
hydrocarbons in them. It varies from plant to plant,
but we grab the accessible hydrocarbons and we run them
through proprietary catalysts that utilize some very cool
quantum chemistry. We’re using sub nanometer
quantum wells, to take the hydrocarbon radicals and convert
them into high octane gasoline, which has an
octane rating of 109. Then we take the excess
carbon that comes off as an inert material. The nice thing about it is it
has a surface area of about 600 meters squared per
gram, so it is a very good nano sponge. And we treat that was a fungal
type treatment to add a protein coating to
it so that it can capture water and nutrients. And with that protein coating
on it, plant roots are attracted to it. So over here we can see desert
soil with fertilizer and water, but without the
carbon treatment. And the same soil with the same
fertilizer and water, but with the carbon treatment. Dramatic effects in
just a few weeks. So instead of taking years to
upgrade the soil, which is what the Biochar initiative
proposes today, we can do it in a matter of weeks. So what is our rollout model? Well, we are well along in
rolling this out for the developed world, in terms
of being only a two-year-old company. We’ll probably have Google as
an investor, along with General Electric, BP, Conoco
Phillips, Constellation Energy, and NRG, and we have
several other oil companies in the pipeline. These are actual investors
in the company, and we’re planning to put out 2050 million
gallon per year plants worldwide, producing about 100
quads of energy, basically. These plants are sized on
the nexus of how far you can carry biomass. You can’t carry it very far
because it has very low energy content on one extreme, versus
the need for a 24/7 crew to operate it on the
other extreme. So 10 to 50 million gallon
plants seemed appropriate for the developed world where labor
costs are fairly high. So google.org, who’s been
following this because of Google’s investment, came to
us a few months ago with a very novel proposal, at the
time, which is, what about 100,000 miniature plants for
the emerging world, million gallon per year plants? And we’ve done all the
analysis on this and it looks very good. It looks like we can put a plant
like that in for about $1 million. The payback is two
to three years. The village of 1,000 people
would net $1 million in revenue, besides making all the
fuel they need, making 60 kilowatts of electricity
for the 1,000 people. And although it’s kind of exotic
technology to put in a village, it runs 24/7, it
employs a lot of people. It powers your lights and your
television sets and your computers, so that if it’s not
being maintained, you know about it right away because
your lights go out. So I think it’s got a pretty
good shot of working. So among other things, it
takes the village out of extreme poverty, up to kind of
mid-range developing world with at least an 8x increase in
village income per capita. And of course, it makes those
people members of the information society because
they’re all going to have smartphones, for sure, and
hopefully some tablet type computers running Android. So that’s our second big x. So to wrap this up, about a
year ago when Google first invested in the company, we
proposed a very bold plan. And that is, that for 1% of the
world’s land mass, 1% of the world’s land, we could power
all the world’s cars. For 2% of the world’s land mass,
we could drag the world back to carbon neutrality,
basically. And for 3% of the world’s land
mass, we could actually reduce atmosphere CO2 by 100 PPM in
about 40 years because of running this positive
feedback loop. Now a year ago, we used some
fairly ambitious yield numbers, which google.org
wondered about, a little bit, but said, yeah, this
is possible to do. And I’m very proud to say that,
about a week ago, in the laboratory on a large pilot
scale, we exceeded the long term yield numbers that would
be needed to make this work. So we are actually getting
yield today from giant miscanthus, produced by the
University of Mississippi, that gives us higher yield
numbers than this model uses. So this looks to me like
a very effective and straightforward way to both
reverse global warming and bring 100 million-plus people
out of extreme poverty. Thank you. MALE SPEAKER: Let us define x. X is a solution, a solution to
a seemingly insurmountable problem like climate change
or cancer, one that affects the world. But what if we redefine x as a
challenge, an opportunity for radical thinking, a chance to
light up the world with breakthrough ideas, and cutting
edge technology, the stuff of science fiction that
just might fly after all? Solving for x requires wonder
and imagination and a vision to build seemingly impossible
solutions to the world’s biggest problems. Solve for
x, moonshot thinking.