Vodka From Thin Air: An Unusual Climate Prize Hits a Coronavirus Snag

Read the full story in the New York Times.

In 2017, Stafford Sheehan handed a friend an unusual bottle of booze. He had made it himself — but not the usual way. A chemical physicist, Dr. Sheehan had invented a process to make alcohol from carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas associated with climate change, not cocktail hour.

“I said, ‘Hold on, you made this from carbon dioxide?’” recalled his friend, Gregory Constantine, who worked in marketing for Smirnoff. Now the two are in the vodka business, using Dr. Sheehan’s technology and marketing it as a way to fight global warming.

Their company, Air Co., was one of 10 finalists for a pair of $7.5 million prizes to be awarded this year to the teams that can devise the most profitable use for carbon dioxide, which causes global warming by trapping the sun’s heat when released into the atmosphere by power plants, cars and industry. The five-year competition, the Carbon XPrize, was designed to create a financial incentive to capture carbon dioxide and use it profitably, instead of releasing it.

However, just as the Brooklyn vodka makers — along with the nine other finalists from as far afield as Nova Scotia (stronger concrete), India (an ingredient in pharmaceuticals) and China (a plastics replacement) — were approaching the finish line, the competition has been delayed by the coronavirus crisis.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.