Co-founder and CEO of Carbon Lock Tech, Kevin Danner — whose innovative solution converts food waste into biocarbon — first became concerned with climate change in 1989, when he read Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature.
The book presents the argument that humanity must undergo a fundamental shift in our relationship with nature if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
“It had a big impact on me, and I became convinced that emissions reduction was the key,” Danner said.
In recent years, however, Danner has come to the realization that we not only need to limit our collective emissions, we must also draw down and permanently sequester the CO2 already in our atmosphere. Staying true to the message outlined in The End of Nature, Danner believes we can harness the power of nature in order to achieve this goal.
Roughly 30 per cent of atmospheric CO2 emissions are absorbed by plants, including food crops. However, a massive amount of those food crops are sent to landfills as food waste, where they break down and release methane — a potent greenhouse gas. To solve this, Carbon Lock Tech has developed a process to convert organic matter into a stable form of biocarbon, which can be sequestered in agricultural soils, construction materials, green infrastructure, and other manufactured goods.
“Pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere isn’t easy, but plants do it very well, in massive quantities. I don’t believe that there is a solution to the climate crisis that doesn’t include plants,” Danner said. “If we leverage this ability and find clean, sustainable, and scalable ways to sequester plant-based carbon, we can help lower the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. At the same time, we can help Canada reduce its total GHG emissions and meet its international commitments.”
Danner’s solution is a great example of Canadian cleantech innovation, and it’s getting noticed. One of Foresight’s Earth Tech 2023 companies, Carbon Lock Tech has received funding support from NRC-IRAP and SDTC (via Foresight nomination), and they were recently announced as a finalist in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge, which comes with potential additional funding of up to $450,000 if selected.
Looking forward, Danner is working hard to commercialize their technology and is feeling confident; their carbonization facilities can be deployed anywhere in the world with a ready supply of organic waste that can be converted into biocarbon. To this end, Carbon Lock Tech is focused on building their team and commissioning a demonstration facility, and Danner says they’re ready to take on strategic partners and investors.
Danner noted that building a startup is not an easy task, even with a solid concept and a strong sense of passion. He attributes Carbon Lock Tech’s success thus far to following the correct steps in the correct order for getting your solution to market.
“Develop the concept, research the business potential, build a prototype, take on investors and partners, leverage grant funding, build the team, and explore paths to commercial success,” Danner said. “Cleantech accelerators are also extremely valuable, and Foresight Canada has been with us for much of our journey.”
Earth Tech is a six-month accelerator that supports the commercialization of companies led by committed teams driven by environmental impact. The program supports early-stage companies to validate their solutions and business models, advance their technologies, raise funding, and create meaningful impact.
Earth Tech is a program of SI Canada delivered in partnership with Foresight Canada, and is made possible with the generous support of the RBC Foundation, Peter Gilgan Foundation, and Bullfrog Power.