CleanO2 is offering a way for businesses to reduce their emissions and make money at the same time, creating a world-first for carbon capture eCommerce, and carbon capture soap! We caught up with Founder and CEO Jaeson Cardiff to hear about how the company fights climate change with a circular business model.
In 2013, CleanO2 launched the world’s first micro-scale carbon capture technology. Its Founder and CEO Jaeson Cardiff was a plumber and HVAC mechanic who noticed that there wasn’t much being done about the carbon emissions from the heating industry, which accounts for roughly 15% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
CleanO2 is built on two revenue streams. The first is through their carbon capture device, CARBiN-X, sold business-to-business. The device captures the carbon emissions from the building and turns it into a valuable ingredient with many commercial uses and particularly common in soaps – potassium carbonate (or pearl ash). CleanO2 then collects this ingredient from their customers to use in their own line of soaps and detergents.
CleanO2 Carbon Capture Soap
CleanO2’s second and larger share of revenue comes from selling “the world’s first carbon capture soap” directly to consumers through their eCommerce website. These soaps are handcrafted in partnership with local soap makers and revenues go toward further research and development of the CARBiN-X device.
To reduce the carbon footprint of eCommerce operations, CleanO2’s products are shipped in recyclable cardboard boxes, packed with biodegradable packing peanuts made of corn starch that dissolves in water.
But what incentivizes a business to purchase a device that costs $20,000 USD? CleanO2 offers a profit sharing program for its customers and cuts them a check every year for the potassium carbonate that their device generates. In addition, the device reduces the building’s energy consumption by preheating water with its excess heat, further adding to their return on investment.
CleanO2 Carbon Capture eCommerce: Interview
CARBiN-X reduces up to 20,000 pounds of carbon emissions a year and customers can expect a return on investment within 5 years. CleanO2’s business model is as brilliant as the name is fitting. We caught up with Jaeson to learn more about carbon capture technology and the challenges this new industry faces.
How did you come up with the idea for CARBiN-X?
I was looking at the developments in carbon capture in the industrial space and some of the processes that were being used. I noticed that one of the chemicals that was being used as the capture medium was sodium hydroxide and we use sodium hydroxide as a neutralizing agent when we clean boilers.
So I thought, “Isn’t that interesting? I have the same chemical that they’re using to capture carbon and I’m working on appliances that are producing a fairly substantial amount of carbon. What if I started to build something that could work on a smaller scale and have a meaningful impact on reducing carbon emissions?”
What is the profit sharing process like? Do you collect the potassium carbonate from your customers or do they take care of that themselves?
We take care of everything. We cut our customers a check at the end of every year and we pay out around $1.20 per kg of potassium carbonate produced. Every unit will produce anywhere from 3000-4000 kg with our current model. It’s potentially an over $4000 rebate check that we’re cutting back to the customer.
When it comes to carbon capture technology, a major concern that comes up is the amount of energy that the technology requires. How much energy does CARBiN-X use?
It’s an important factor that we have to acknowledge. We can’t be putting ourselves in a position where we’re producing more carbon than we’re capturing. And we openly acknowledge we’re not perfect right now. We’re early stages. We recognize that there’s tons of room for improvement and everything that we do at CleanO2 is to move towards that maximized effect on reducing carbon emissions.
Our units use approximately 250-300 kWh per year. It’s about on par with what our residential fridge would use over the course of a year. So it’s not a huge energy hog in terms of power needs.
The one hole that we’re trying to fill right now is chemical production. The chemical production for our feedstock is not great. Potassium hydroxide has a significant footprint associated with production. That will alter depending on where the energy source is coming from. So it’s trying to find that balance, making sure that the feedstock has as green a footprint as possible, and there’s tons of room for improvement that we plan on making as we move forward.
What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in building this company so far?
Regulations around gas-fired appliances and related appliances. Both Canadian and American gas codes do not incorporate carbon capture because it doesn’t exist beyond what we’re doing. So trying to interpret regulations to allow us to move ahead with installations is challenging. And justifiably it should be challenging because we’re talking about keeping people safe. So we need to make sure that when we’re installing these systems that they are installed in the spirit of the code because the code doesn’t reference carbon capture.
We work closely with various regulatory bodies both in Canada and the U.S., federal and state level folks that want to see this installed but want to make sure it’s done safely. That’s probably our biggest challenge, getting people comfortable with a new technology.
The CARBiN-X units
How has the pandemic impacted your business?
It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, COVID has reduced our ability to access mechanical rooms to install systems, both Canada and the U.S. and abroad. But on the other hand, the units that we do have in operation that we have access to, we can produce soap, and how relevant is soap during a pandemic? It’s helped and hindered at the same time.
What do you have planned for the company coming up? What can people look forward to seeing in the coming years?
We’ve got a version 4 that we’re hoping to have out by the end of this year that will take our 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and push it up to 40-50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in a mechanical room. Long term goal we think we can get to 100% through some new technologies that we’re developing.
More closer in terms of timelines we’ve got some amazing Earth Day soaps that we’re going to be producing and selling through our website here in April and different products we’re looking at branching off into like the fertilizer industry and a few other offshoot industries that can make use of the chemical that we’re producing.
You can learn more about CleanO2 at https://www.cleano2.ca/.
Further Reading: Shopify Sustainability: Fund Carbon Sequestration. Read More