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Let's turn carbon emissions into something useful

Robert Ashworth

The average coal-fired power plant spews out more than a million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

Wouldn't it be great if that greenhouse gas could be put to good use?

On this month's edition of The Digital Future, Strategic News Service Publisher Mark Anderson tells KPLU's Dave Meyer that all that carbon could be used to make fuel, chemicals and other products.

Last week, Mark held his Future in Review (FiRe) technology conference in Laguna Beach, California. The annual event is a brainstorming session for some of the brightest minds on the planet. 

One of the ideas discussed at FiRe is what Mark calls "twinning": pairing up major carbon emitters (such as coal-fired power plants) with facilities that can manufacture something out of those emissions.

The key, says Mark, is to give economic value to CO2, rather than treating it as garbage.

A number of companies are developing the technology needed to take carbon emissions and turn them into profits. Mark points to Heliae as an example.

Heliae uses algae to feed on CO2 emissions. The company says its algae can be used to produce food, chemicals, and even jet fuel.

Mark can see a future where all jet fuel is derived from CO2 emissions at power plants.

Instead of arguing about the environment impact of carbon emissions, and the cost of reducing them, companies can instead view their CO2 emissions as a valuable resource. Power plants will have a profit motive for keeping their carbon out of the air.

Mark says this could turn out to be a real win/win scenario. 


Dave Meyer has been anchoring KNKX news shows since 1987. He grew up along the shores of Hood Canal near Belfair and graduated from Washington State University with degrees in communications and psychology.
Mark Anderson is the CEO of the Strategic News Service® (SNS), SNS was the first subscription-based newsletter on the Internet, and is read by Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Mark Hurd, and industry leaders and investors in computing and communications worldwide. Mark is the founding chair of the Future in Review® (FiRe) Conference, which the Economist has labeled “the best technology conference in the world,” as well as of SNS Project Inkwell, the first global consortium to address technology design changes for one-to-one computing in classrooms. He is the founder of two software companies, a hedge fund, and the Washington Technology Industry Association “Fast Pitch” investment forum, Washington’s premier technology investment conference.