when we change the conditions and limit one of the growth nutrients, they respond by filling their cells with a concentrated energy material called polyhydroxyalkanoate--what we call aircarbon TM--the microscopic version of building muscle in response to resistance. as it turns out, the repeating units of aircarbon are produced in all known living things on earth to create concentrated energy, including fish, birds, dolphins, tigers, and humans.
the problem in the past, unfortunately, was that under these conditions, microorganisms would not make very much material when using greenhouse gas. they would make a little, and then turn off as a result of a negative feedback response loop. our answer to this problem came from the ocean. specifically, after field tripping for candidates, we discovered a microorganism culture from the Pacific Ocean that, when combined with other processing technologies, had the unique ability to bypass the traditional negative feedback loop: in other words, it could make a lot of aircarbon before turning itself off.
for us, this was a game-changer.
now we had a scalable way to make aircarbon.
a natural, ocean-degradable energy material
that can be melted and forged into fibers and solid parts
by life, for life.
if nature can do it, why can't we?
when we started, we weren't the first to have the idea of turning greenhouse gas into useful materials. unfortunately, in 2003, the science wasn't yet there.
the problem was efficiency: early systems were self-limiting, and turned themselves off at low yields, resulting in only small amounts of product.
so, our founding question was: how can we turn greenhouse gas into a high-value material in a scalable way?
the answer, it turned out, came from the ocean.
this is how our technology works:
first, we start with a large tank and fill it with water.
second, we add salts and minerals to the water to make a growth nutrient solution.
third, we add a microorganism culture to the water, similar to adding a culture for brewing beer (we're not, by the way).
| | || |||
fourth, we use renewably-sourced power to bubble air and concentrated, renewably-sourced greenhouse gas, such as methane or carbon dioxide, into the salt water tank.
fifth, when we bubble these gases through the water, our microorganisms use air and greenhouse gas as food to grow; when they have everything they need for growth, they just make more of themselves.