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This sounds terribly difficult

We’ve spent the last century and a half pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it’s clear that we’ll have to spend the coming decades removing a significant fraction of that.

But then what do we do with it all? Some people are proposing pumping it underground. Others think we can make things from it, including liquid fuels and concrete. Problem is, those are pretty low-margin opportunities today. One startup thinks the answer is to turn carbon dioxide into protein.

That company is getting a shot to test its thesis at scale, TechCrunch+ has exclusively learned. NovoNutrients will be building a pilot-scale plant with help from a $3 million technology and investment deal from Woodside Energy, one of Australia’s largest oil and gas companies, which has begun dipping its toes into the carbon capture waters.

Umm, grow plants with it?

21 thoughts on “This sounds terribly difficult”

  1. Decades ago the heavy end of the oil barrel was so cheap that BP spent quite a bit of lolly on developing oil -> food. Them wuz the days.

    In a sugar refinery once I had a sniff at the protein they recovered from the beet. Instant return to childhood – it was the smell of the food we used for the goldfish we won at the fair.

  2. 30 billion tons of CO2 per year and they think the solution is to turn it into protein. 30 billion tons of CO2 gives 60 billion tons of a simple protein like globulin. With a world population of 8 billion that equates to 20kg of protein per person per day.

  3. The fish, Andy, they’ll feed it to the fish.

    Though, mind you, the Guardian would then scold us about fish farts.

  4. Stuff that grows has literally spent the last 10k years competing for resources, light, water, and CO2 mainly so what is still around should be good at it. Just get out of the way and let that competition flourish and the CO2 level will be restrained.

    So no subsidies to farmland owners. And no red diesel and no VED exemptions, sorry Jim!

    Imv of course.

  5. AndyF
    37 billion tons according to one source, 1.4 tons per average person (= 11 billion tons) according to another.
    Never mind, I’m sure the problem can be solved by banning Jim from hooking up his tractor to blow exhaust fumes through his polytunnels and bankrupting all Dutch farmers.

  6. “and it’s clear that we’ll have to spend the coming decades removing a significant fraction of that.”

    Actually not clear at all, an possibly even a Bad Idea. But hey…

    And Very Special Bacteria “using CO2 in heir metabolism”..
    All bacteria can integrate CO2 directly in their metabolism..
    As an energy source ….ummmm… methanogens? Really novel** stuff… **[/ahem] [/sarc]

    I am quite curious what the actual beastie is that they’re going to use. Especially if they want to use it as protein feedstock.
    Y’see.. Anything that can live on CO2 alone ( mostly..) tends to be quite toxic to us airbreathers. Comes with the chemistry involved.

    And while most of those toxins can be cooked to death like, alledgedly ( 😛 ), the english do their vegetables, there are far easier and potentially more economical ways to do that..
    For 3 million I can put up a plant that does protein, alcohol(s), and methane. With the protein already rated as a standard product for the food industry…

    And no way to patent the process… ( Well maybe in the US.. They mad over there, and it may be worth a pop..)

  7. As I understand it, the dust from the Sahara blows into the Atlantic and feeds the algae to gobble up the CO2.

    So for $3 million the company could truck waste from the Pilbara mines and spread it over the ocean. Problem solved.

    Though you did mention that so simple and obvious a solution has long since been banned, Tim?

  8. Off topic but the BBC have obviously decided to go after Twitter following the interview debacle mentioned elsewhere with unsubstantiated “Russian troll” scare stories “backed up” by anonymous ex-twtter staff – anonymous because they are “afraid” and, er, signed NDAs – but the best bit of the BBC story is this:

    “We approached Twitter for comment but received no response other than a poo emoji”

  9. The “definitely not state-funded” (except that the state can and often does send people, usually women, to prison if they don’t pay for it) bbc continues to cover the worlds most important stories on their news front page.

    Yesterday was the great Essex golliwog round-up, today it’s a poo emoji.

  10. @AndrewC you forgot the : “- the standard auto-reply from the company to any press enquiry.”

    I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure only certain specific sections of “the Press” get that poo emoji.
    The rest gets the usual “we’ve received your mail and may reply when we feel like it if we think you have actual business with us.” stuff.

    But that interview is hilarious, and that “Journalist” basically destroyed himself.

  11. Growing plants isn’t fast enough. That would take decades. Don’t you know there’s an election every five years or less?

  12. So what is the optimum CO2 proportion in the atmosphere. And if it is significantly lower than now, WTF is so wrong with now?

    I see it is climate emergency now in all the smart places. What emergency, exactly?

  13. rhoda, it is currently at around 420ppm.
    Around about 170 ppm is a level where we, all plants, trees and animals die. Grass would survive though, so that’s oK.

    700 – 1000ppm is maintained in commercial greenhouses to increase growth and the plants thrive.

    7000ppm is believed to be the highest it has been in the past, during the Pre-Cambrian period. For some reason this is known as ‘the explosion of life’……….

    Far from there being too much CO2 in the atmosphere, we are closer to extinction due to too little.

  14. 96% of all C02 currently is in the oceans. There is a continuous exchange between the atmosphere and the seas which is temperature dependent. Outgassing when water temps rise, absorption when water temps cool. Therefore increases in atmospheric CO2 is caused by global warming, not the reverse.

    Mankind is only ‘pumping’ into the atmosphere a very small fraction of the carbon dioxide that was removed from the atmosphere and fixed underground in past times by natural process as fossil fuels, when C02 concentration was up to five or six times higher.

    So which is the ‘correct’ amount, 1 800ppm in the Jurassic Age or the 421 ppm it is now? There was no runaway Planet-ending global warming during the Jurassic Period, and in fact ice ages followed. How so?

    During ice ages CO2 is at a minimum – fixed in frozen water. So how does the Earth warm up if CO2 is the magic ‘greenhouse’ gas? With high CO2 concentrations in other times, how does the Earth cool down?

    Below 200ppm plant life starts to die. Plant life grows faster and more copiously above 1 000 ppm. Commercial green houses and plant nurseries maintain and concentration at around 1 200 ppm to accelerate plant growth and produce more robust plants.

    The entire climate change ‘science’ is bogus. It’s a scam.

  15. ‘rhoda, it is currently at around 420ppm.’

    Interesting Addolff. I understood it was about half that before the rise took place. If collapse takes place at 170 ppm, it was getting a little low.

    Dear old Gaia obviously had the right idea in creating us to dig up all that fossil carbon and burn it.

  16. John B et al. Are you aware of Joe Bastardi? He is a metereologist (WeatherBell) who looks at current conditions and compares them to past events and tries to give a hint (don’t want to use the word ‘prediction’) on his ‘Saturday Summary’ about the weather over the upcoming weeks / months.

    He believes the whole CO2 stuff is bollox but has recently been looking at sea surface temperatures and the very close correlation to seismic activity since the mid 1980’s. Not his data, a Dr. Arthur Vitorito.

    Scroll down the page. For those with a 5 second attention span or dislike of show music, go to the 2.30 minute mark

  17. More than once, in geological time, we’ve seen a ‘snowball earth’, where the ice sheets have covered the entire planet. The very high albedo this creates keeps the temperatures in the deep freeze – the planet only escaped from this condition when massive eruptions released sufficient CO2 to raise temperatures enough to start a big melt.

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