The state of our environment? It’s “code red for humanity,” according to a recently-released UN scientific study. If we do not curb greenhouse gas emissions, the report notes, then we will continue to do irreversible harm to our climate.
However, one South Florida startup is on a mission to turn the tides of climate change. Tim Sperry is the founder and CEO of Carbon Limit, a Boca Raton-based company that for the last year and half has been designing innovative tools for carbon capture and storage.
The lifelong entrepreneur spoke to Refresh Miami via Zoom from FAU Tech Runway. The startup is currently taking part in Tech Runway’s accelerator program.
Carbon Limit has developed a direct air capture machine that ingests carbon dioxide (CO2, a greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere and filters it through a proprietary system that produces an alternative to cement. “We’re reducing CO2 from the air, and we’re putting it in the streets that we drive and walk on every day,” Sperry said. “We’re taking something bad and making it into something good.”
Concrete, perhaps the most ubiquitous material used in built environment and infrastructure projects, is approximately 10% cement. The concrete industry is one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide. Considering all stages of production, concrete is estimated to be responsible for 4-8% of the world’s CO2 emissions, according to a report from British think tank Chatham House.
Sperry and team have devised a carbon-capturing system that is set up in a shipping container. Sperry claimed that “each system captures 20 tons of CO2 every five to seven days.” The plan is for Carbon Limit to then sell these tons of CO2 as carbon credits. But first, they need to procure a third-party verification – something which the team is already in the process of doing. On top of selling these carbon credits, the US government offers a tax credit for each ton the company captures.
Sperry summarized this three-fold profit stream: “We can sell a carbon credit, get paid by the government at the same time for offsetting atmospheric CO2, and then sell that cement aggregate to concrete, cement, and asphalt companies.” These systems are solar powered, so have a low carbon footprint and are inexpensive to run.
“Essentially this is a carbon credit ATM machine that will continuously generate more and more,” said Sperry.
Sperry noted that FAU Tech Runway has provided Carbon Limit with resources to level up their business. In particular, “the guidance from mentors has been super valuable.” Additionally, he said that taking part in the accelerator has given the startup a leg up for NSF and SBDC grants. “FAU Tech Runway has been way above and beyond expectations.”
In September, Sperry will be migrating to Indianapolis to take part in another accelerator program, this time co-sponsored by Techstars and construction giant The Heritage Group. There, Sperry says that Carbon Limit will “complete [their] R&D in a fully appointed, first-class lab.”
The six-person startup has very ambitious plans. “We want to remove a billion tons or more,” said Sperry. That would require 2,200 units per state. “Our objective is to be as inexpensive as possible, as effective as possible, and to reach that gigaton scale while being profitable, too.”
Check out more South Florida startups working to save our environment:
- This North Miami startup is bringing farming into the 21st century
- SustainaBase helps companies reduce their carbon emissions, saving lives and the planet
- Meet the South Florida native on a mission to solve the ocean’s biggest problems plus story on venture studio cohort companies here
- 4Ocean, a Boca company, puts tech to work cleaning the world’s oceans of plastic
- Sprightful is building a brighter, solar-powered future
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