In the fight to improve carbon capture technology and reduce the rate of climate change, four companies hit the jackpot with a new customer announcing $1 million in support to expand their projects and accelerate their efforts.
The money is coming from San Francisco-based electronic payments company Stripe, which is supporting a radical approach to fighting climate change.
Stripe is spending $1 million all told, following CEO Patrick Collison's August pledge that instead of buying cheap carbon offsets, such as those from landowners who agree not to cut trees, the company would pay much more for innovative methods to get carbon dioxide out of the air.
Some studies have found that a majority of offsets used for regulatory compliance or tax breaks do not measurably and effectively improve the air, even if they let companies claim to be carbon neutral.
Instead of looking for the cheapest "negative ton" offsets for carbon emissions, which can cost as little as $10, Stripe will pay as much as $800 per ton for promising new approaches.
One of those projects is a beach project - taking coarse-milled olivine to the water's edge so the waves can grind it up, allowing the ocean to absorb more carbon.
Project Vesta is a nonprofit started last year by founders including Eric Matzner, a self-described "biohacker" whose main company makes cognitive supplements.
Matzner's application promised to use Stripe's money to take its experiments with olivine out of the lab and to the Caribbean beach.
In seawater, olivine minerals form solid carbon compounds and also reduce the water's acidity, so it can absorb more carbon dioxide from the air.
The trick is that milling the stone to create more surface area and accelerate the erosion consumes energy that might come from fossil fuels.
Vesta wants to harness natural wave power. With Stripe as its first customer, it will spread olivine on the beach and see if the water can grind it down enough to speed up de-acidification.
Another project comes from San Francisco-based for-profit vendor Charm Industrial, which is hoping to reverse hundreds of years of fossil fuel burning and put carbon dioxide back into the ground.
It's doing so by taking carbon-containing biomass that would otherwise decompose, like agricultural waste such as saw dust or almond shells, and putting it through fast pyrolysis, a process that involves rapidly heating the waste up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit in stainless steel pipes and separating the physical ash from the waste and a gas produced by the pryolysis, and condensing the gas into a liquid called bio-oil.
It then plans to sequester that bio-oil, which now contains much of the original material's carbon, underground.
The two other projects include Switzerland-baed ClimeWorks, which is one of the three best-known startups that take carbon straight out the air, and CarbonCure Technologies, which puts carbon into concrete and whose method is used in 285 concrete plants.