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Episode 19 Transcript: Cement That Won’t Sink Us

The complete transcript for episode 19.

Episode 19 Transcript: Cement That Won’t Sink Us

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Welcome to Everybody in the Pool, the podcast for the climate economy. We dive deep into the climate crisis and come up with solutions. I'm Molly Wood.

One thing you tend to hear a lot when you're talking about climate action is, you know, it doesn't matter what personal action I take because what we really need to change is … heavy industry or hard-to-decarbonize sectors or sometimes … you know … capitalism.

Which … fair points all around … and as you hopefully know by now … my approach to this problem is yes … and. Yes … to individual action and yes to solving big problems, too …

So this week … let's reassure you that the big problems … are getting attention too …

And there's a certain type of entrepreneur who literally sets out to find … the *specific problem … that's both difficult … and overlooked … and not very sexy at all … and that type … is this guy.

Cody Finke:

my name's Cody Finke. I'm the co-founder and c e O of Brimstone. And Brimstone is working on getting the c o two emissions out of the production of cement.

Molly Wood:

So talk to, let's start by talking about cement, because this is sort of one of those. This is like one of those climate issues where when people hear about it and find out what a big deal it really is, they're pretty astonished.

Cody Finke:

That's right. Yeah. This, it's, it's actually, I had a, a, a, a similar story where I learned that it was a big deal. I became astonished and then I decided that I wanted to work on it. Um, but yeah, so I. Uh, the, the c o two emissions associated with cement are basically the same as the c o two emissions associated with cars.

So, you know, if you're the type of person who is concerned about c o two emissions from driving cars and think that electric vehicles are maybe a good solution and an important solution, then you also ought be concerned about the c o two emissions associated with cement because they're really the same size, right?

Cars are about six and a half percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and cement production is responsible for about five and a half percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Um, Yeah. And, and, and it's an interesting story because cement is different than most, um, greenhouses gas emissions. Uh, because cement is not just a fossil fuel, right?

So, so, um,

burning a fossil fuel is only responsible for about 40% of the emissions associated with producing cement.

Um, the other 60% come from, uh, the rock itself, right? The chemistry, uh, used to make cement.

Molly Wood:

Um, Dig into that a little bit more, no pun intended about rocks. Um, is it that there is stored car? Am I right in saying it's because there's stored carbon a lot of times in the rock that is released as part of the process of making cement?

That's, that's right. Yeah.


feel free to geek out here,

Cody Finke:

Yeah, so, so, so, um, cement is fundamentally a calcium based material. And, you know, 150 years ago, uh, we figured out a way to get calcium from this rock called limestone. And the way that we get calcium from limestone is we heat that limestone stone up really hot, and the limestone releases c o two, leaving behind calcium because it turns out that the rock limestone is about 50% by weight.

C O two, and we just need to get rid of that c o two in order to access that sweet, sweet calcium that we can use to, to make ordinary Portland


Molly Wood:

is what I was hoping for when I said, geek out a little.




it coming.


So, um, okay, so that happens. No one seems to know that, but then as a result, cement specifically, uh, in. For you, I mean, obviously roads and all of that, or are we talking the stuff in buildings Embodied carbon as a result of all the buildings that we make outta that cement

Everything. Right. So, yeah. A

couple fun, fun facts about cement, right? So, um, uh, cement is the binder. It's like the glue that, that, that, uh, sticks. Basically all of the structures we build in the world together, whether that's a building or a bridge, or a road or a dam, right? Um, so we mix that glue with some rocks basically, and, and water and sand.

And, um, that makes concrete, which is the building material and concrete is actually the most consumed human made building, or excuse me, the most consumed human made material on the planet. Uh, so it is. Enormous, right? We, we consume about 50 billion with a b tons of concrete every year, and we consume about five-ish billion tons of cement every year in order to make that concrete.


and we really only use, you know, it's essentially true that we use one type of cement, right? That's, it's called Ordinary Portland Cement. Uh, there are a few other, uh, sort of niche applications, like very, very, very specialty applications like for, you know, casing for oil wells or something like that where there's a very corrosive environment or.

Um, you know, if you need to very quickly repair an overpass from like some cracking or something like that, there are some other types of cement that are very minor, uh, you know, very special applications. But in general, we, you know, 95 plus, or even maybe 99% of, of cement is this thing called ordinary Portland cement, which is that calcium based material that we make that today we make from limestone.

Molly Wood:

And before I ask you how you are replacing the cement, I wanna hear that origin story about what, how you came to tackle this problem specifically.

Cody Finke:

Yeah, so, uh, I I, I've always like , geez. So, so I've been concerned with, um, environmental issues since I was in high school. Um, I grew up in Seattle and somehow, um, I think through, uh, uh, freshman year science course, uh, went to watch an Inconvenient Truth, right? That, that old Al Gore documentary about climate change, and I learned that glaciers were melting, right?

And I looked in Seattle, I looked up at Mount Rainier, which looms over Seattle, and I was like, wow, that's a really cool thing. And that's melting. And that was very concerning for, you know, 14 year old Cody. Um, and it's, you know, still concerned concerning for a three, three year old Cody. But I, I've had, I've, uh, grown deeper concerns than that.



Now, but so as my thinking kind of, uh, as I learned more and my thinking got more sophisticated, um, I, you know, started being attracted to big environmental problems that have, you know, large social implications or the, the impact human quality of life. Um, es especially for the most vulnerable people in the world, um, but also impact, you know,

Natural world, right? So, so animals and plants and, and these things that I think are wonderful and I don't want to go away either. Um, And I, uh, you know, as my, you know, as I wanted to work on solving these types of problems, I've, you know, gone through a few different, uh, iterations of what I've wanted to work on, and they've all kind of taken a theme of what is a huge problem.

I. Impacts all of these things, uh, but is not worked on enough .

So I, I, I started with, uh, uh, working on wastewater treatment for applications in low income countries, you know, and a similar problem to climate change. And that's huge scale, not worked on enough. Um, And I was in graduate school developing a technology, um, to treat wastewater specifically in low-income countries.

And long story short, , uh, I decided, I, I, I learned the technology I was developing was not going to be helpful. . So,

Yeah. Uh,

so I.

of brutal like that.

Yeah. So that, that was too bad. Um, but so I decided that I better stop working on it, um, because I would want it to be helpful. So I, um, was kind of milling around, uh, different project ideas and I was lucky enough to, um, go to this talk, uh, by a guy named Dave Danielson.

Um, Who now happens to be the managing director of one of our investors. But that was not the case at the time. Uh, nor did we have investors of our company that, um, I, and, and his talk was titled, I think White Spaces and Climate Tech, uh, as in like, you know, the, these are things that are huge problems. No one's working on them.

I think he was working for, for the Department of Energy at the time.

Um, and it was kind of funny. There's this huge auditorium and I think there were only like 20 people that attended. Um,

and, and like normally those Department of Energy talks are, are really well attended. But this one was, you know, not about the normal things like energy.

This was about like this know fertilizer,

you know,


E Ex. Exactly. So it was kind of appropriate, like looking back, I was like, oh, . That was really kind of a demonstration of how. Uh, no one cares about these huge problems, but one of the things that Dave Danielson talked about was cement, and I was shocked.

Um, just like I hope that many of the people listening to this podcast will be shocked that the problem is the same scale as cars. Uh, and I, and I went in, you know, sometime later I went and looked up like how much money is invested in these, uh, issues. And I found that per ton of greenhouse gas emissions in transportation, there is about $14 invested in decarbonizing transportation.

for cement per ton of greenhouse gas emission. There is about 1 cent invested in decarbonizing it.

Right? So you might say $14. That's really not enough, and I agree

and . Then you also

Molly Wood:

I was like making that face like, oh, where are we going from? Oh 1 cent.


Then you say, well, 1 cent, if $14 isn't enough, 1 cent really isn't enough.

So, um, but that was exactly the kind of thing that I wanted to be working on.

I was like, wow, you know, uh, what could be more cool than a problem like that where like, you know, not many folks are working on. So there's probably still some room for some good ideas. Uh, and you know, from from my failure with the wastewater treatment technology, I get to kind of developed a, a thesis of like what needs to be true in order to be useful.

And, uh, my, I I, and the first thing I need is like, okay, uh, we live in the world we live in, which means in order to solve this problem, we need to start a company. Because that's like sort of the main, the main mechanism that new technologies get into the world. Um, and if you're gonna start a company, then

The product you're selling has to either have the same value or be lower cost, uh, or excuse

me, higher value or be lower cost

with the same value, or else it will not spread very far. And if it

doesn't spread very far, it doesn't have a big climate impact. right?

exactly. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So, so, so I, um, uh, the first thing we did is tried to talk to as many customers as we could to figure out like what needed to be true in order to decarbonize cement and

We kind of came upon three criteria, um, that we still hold, you know, today. So the first criteria is we said, okay, it has to be the exact same material. Um, so, so you have to make ordinary Portland cement.


And the reason why we came up with that criteria is that we just talked to a ton of structural engineers and they all said, yeah, it's just so risky to build a building out of a new material.

Like, we don't want the

building to fall down, and neither do you. And I thought about it and I was like, he's right. You know, they're, they're right. I, I don't want the building to fall down. That would be, um,

Molly Wood:

No. Like so. No. And that rules out like a shredded denim composite or


algae grown kind of thing.

Cody Finke:

Right. And it's

not to say that, you know, those things couldn't be wonderful materials and have some impact, but it's just, you know, we're, we're, we're dealing with tight timelines

and um, you know, we don't wanna wait to, you know, build one building and then wait around for four years to see if it's okay, and then we can build our second building.

You know, we want to be. You know, in 40 years we hope to get a significant chunk of the decarbonization done. ,

not just one building.

So yeah, , right? So, so that's, that's the right, it has to be the same material, right? The second

criteria, um, . Was that it has to be, uh, cost parity or better, right? So, so that's basically saying like, if we're gonna scale fast, then we need global financial institutions to, uh, want to make money off of us.

Uh, and, and, and that is what allow, can allow us to deploy this technology, you know, at a, you know, break next pace. Uh,

and, and so, so that was, yeah, that, that, that's what we were thinking there.

Molly Wood:

Which I should say is like, that's pretty bold. I mean, that's somewhat unusual when you're looking at kind of r and d intensive, you know, capital intensive solutions. It's very often the case that people are forced to say, yeah, it's gonna cost more at first, and we hope it comes down.

So to have had that as a starting point is pretty, you know, it's a, it's a hill to climb.

Cody Finke:

It, it was, and it, you know, it's, it's, we have not solved the problem yet. Right. So, , uh,

just to be clear, like cement has not

Molly Wood:

I'm like, damn out the gate.

Cody Finke:


But we think, yeah. You know, and, and I should also say it's, it's probably an impossible task for like plant number one to be lower cost for anything, just because the engineering costs are so high.

If you're building something that's never been built before. But we think once we're at scale, you know, . Certainly be like, that's the product we're building. Right. Certainly

be lower cost, um, because if it's not lower cost, it's not gonna have an impact. And then if it's not gonna have an impact, I'm not really interested in working on it.

So that's sort of, it's . Uh, but, but that, that's the, like our current, you know, our, our, our current modeling says like, yes, this product will be cost parity or better at scale,

and and that's where we need to be or else we're gonna go back to the drawing board. And I kind of. I I would encourage other folks to, you know, do the same exercise because I,

I, if it's not cost parity are better, then we kind of have to change the global economic system, which I don't know if that's a good idea or a bad idea, but it sounds slow.

So , uh, and, and that's, uh, and, and I think that's a bad thing.

So, so anyway, cost

Molly Wood:

All right. And then what's number three?

Cody Finke:

Number three, uh, is it has to be substantially lower emissions, and ideally

carbon negative. Right? And this is a, a, a bit of a, a tricky one because there are so many technologies out there that are, we are lower emissions pause if you use clean energy and that, and we wanted to do better than that, right?

Because if we were gonna build , Like we saw this really big moral hazard, right? If we sincerely thought, and we do sincerely think that our process will be lower cost at scale, that means that, you know, I'm pretty confi. Like, if that's true, if that, doesn't it be true, then I'm pretty confident the forces of capitalism will cause this process to spread.

You know, either, you know, somehow spread across the world, and if it is lower cost, but higher emissions. Under, like with conventional, like with conventional energy sources, then that's a problem. 'cause I don't know how fast like the energy transition will happen, right? So I'd be really concerned of like, oh, actually we're making the world like a more emissions intensive place.

So this was like a big problem. An

d it specifically comes from like, I've worked on previous clean technologies that are quite common that are, you know, When you use clean energy, they're clean. But when you use conventional energy, they are much dirtier than the

conventional way of doing things. And that's like a, a big moral hazard that, you know, we fear a lot.

So at brimstone we talk a lot about, um, you know, making sure that we are lower emissions, sub significantly lower emissions, and ideally carbon negative, you know, regardless of the energy source. Uh, and that's . You know, and I can talk about how that could possibly be, but those are three criteria. And, um, you know, same product, lower cost and or cost per are better, I should say.

And, and then, um, lower emissions and ideally carbon negative. And that's, you know, we still, like, we've been consistently going back to the drawing board until we think that. This is right. And then we'll, you know, work on it for a while. We come up with some problems and realize, oh, it's not meeting our criteria.

Go back to the drawing board and to, and you know, we're current currently have a process we, like, we, we believe that at scale it will meet these

criteria and we'll continue to build that and iterate until it does.

You see what I mean about these people who don't like small problems? But with blueprint in mind … Cody and the team have set out to … solve it. I'll talk to him about how they're doing it … after the break.

Welcome back to Everybody in the Pool … I'm talking with Cody Finke … the founder and CEO of Brimstone … and now it's time to find out … how this whole thing works.

Molly Wood:

Okay, so tell me about the process.


is this all, how do you do it?

Cody Finke:

Right. Yeah. So, um, the first thing is that, um, our process, . Uses a different rock as a starting material.

So instead of

getting That's right, instead of getting that calcium from, uh, limestone, which contains c o two, we get our calcium from a silicate rock, which I'm holding in my hand right now. .


Molly Wood:

He has the


right. Yeah.


This is not the only rock , but, uh,

at Rock.

He has a Rock

Cody Finke:

That's right. Uh, uh, yeah. So, so, so, um, We get our, our, our calcium from a cal, uh, a silicate rock and silicate rocks do not contain c o two, right?

So we're starting from already 60% better. . There's no

no c o two emissions in the rock. It's great . Um, okay. I. So this, so that's, you know, we, I'll return to lower emissions at the end, but that's how we make the same product, right? Um, uh, we, we get calcium just from a different rock. You know, there's

lots of mining in industries like make the same product from different starting materials.

That's been true in cement in the past, but we are . Making our material from a different story material. And in fact, we actually just got a third party to certify us as making the exact same material. So we just passed what's called the a s Tmm C one 50 standard, which is what gives you the rubber stamp and says, yes, this is ordinary Portland cement and a, a third party indeed certified that we can make ordinary Portland cement from this rock.

So we're the

first ever to do that, which is great. Um, so

criteria two, lower cost ,

One different rock, two cost.

Molly Wood:


Cody Finke:

So right now, uh, and uh, cement is made from a combination of two materials. The first material is ordinary Portland cement, that that's what comes out of a cement plant. And the second material is the waste from burning coal in coal-fired power plants.

That's fly ash. Okay, so this is where, you know, Yeah. Tell people to, who

are only interested in energy

Molly Wood:

concrete story just gets worse and worse, doesn't it?

Cody Finke:

It does. Yeah. . And there's some, you know, some interesting accounting things where somehow international governing bodies decided that the waste products from burning coal to make electricity are zero emissions.

But that's a , that's a whole different, uh, story. I'll just leave that for as an exercise to the listener to look up . But,


the, the, um, . This is, so, yeah, I guess if people are who are only interested in energy, listen to this podcast, then tell 'em to fast forward to this minute because , uh, so, so, so where the energy story intersects with cement is that, um, coal fire power plants produce the other important raw material for making cement.

It's called fly ash. And, uh, unfortunately for the cement industry, but luckily for brimstone, uh, . Coal fire power plants are becoming scarce or, or, or they're not growing as quickly. I would like them to grow even slower, but, um,

and, and that's because other

Molly Wood:

luckily for humans, they are growing more slowly. Yeah.

Cody Finke:

That's right. Um, and, and that, and that's because other technologies are cheaper for making electricity. Right. So,

so of course combined cycle natural gas, but also renewable solar and wind and hydro and everything else, um, are lower cost sources of electricity. So, You know that we, we are having less coal.

Meanwhile, cement is just chugging along and increasing with population. And this has led to cost increases in cement production, right? So what

used to be basically a free waste product from this other industry now has the same value as ordinary Portland cement in the market. And in fact, in the United States, we routinely import this stuff from other countries.

So where I sit in California, we ship, uh, the waste products from . Coal fire power plants from China over to California in order to build our buildings with, it's a bizarre, it's a

bizarre thing.

Molly Wood:

Thereby only increasing the emissions of an already emission intensive industry.

Cody Finke:

That's right. Yeah.

But just like you don't need to make, so the, and this thing, it's actually, it's broadly called supplementary cementitious materials or s c M.

So just like you don't need to make Portland cement from limestone, you also don't need to make s C M from burning coal, right? You can make S C M from.

Anything that has the right elements. And it turns out that our favorite rock happens to be, have all of the elements to produce both ordinary Portland cement and SS c M,


which means that our new process is a huge market simplification.

Instead of having to import fly ash from China, you can, you could just use our process and make both components of cement from the same process in the same location.

So that's why we think it'll be lower cost at scale,



And then,

Molly Wood:

So, okay. I'm gonna, I wanna, yeah, finish part three, and then I wanna go back and dig into some of these pieces individually.


Cody Finke:

Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. So part three is right, the emission store. Right? So we already talked about how R Rock has no c o two in it, so that's, that helps . Uh, the, uh, we do have one waste product from our process, and that waste product is magnesium compounds. So typically magnesium hydroxides, but there's a few different magnesium compounds and that's just, you know, goes into our, our tailings pile on site, uh, at, at, at, at, at the plant.

And those magnesium compounds. They react with c o two in the air just passively. So just sitting there, they'll react with c o two in the air to form magnesium carbonate, which is permanently sequestered mineralized, c O two. . So by making this waste product right, we are just sequestering c o two outta the air.

So if we were to use, you know, conventional fuels we're typically carbon negative. If, if we ha, if you know, the energy transition happens as fast as we all hope it does, then we'll only have to use clean energy and we'll be way carbon negative .



Um, and, and, and that's kind of the thing is, okay, great, this process meets all three of our criteria.

It's worth our time to work on until, you know, until we're done or we find out it

doesn't meet this criteria.

Molly Wood:

How did you discover this?

Yeah. So it

definitely helps

does sort of feel like if there's this magic rock sitting there, how come no one started doing that before?

Cody Finke:

Yeah. So we're, the other thing, just to make it even sillier is this is def it's not, it's definitely not a magic rock. This is actually the, the, um, makes up like 50% of the Earth's crust. So it's like

Molly Wood:

That was one of my questions is how abundant is that rock?

Cody Finke:

Yeah, it's like the

most abundant thing ever. It's, um, like, it's commonly

just mine for rock. Uh, so if you need like gravel, you know, to make, you know, for your driveway or you know, to make concrete or whatever, it's often this rock because it's just a common rock. Um, Okay, so how, you know, how did we, uh, how did we come up to this?

So I would say a combination of the right skills and, and, and really good timing. Um, so luck. So, you know, helps to be a chemist, right? These are chemistry problems, happen to be a chemist. So that's, that's sort of the right skills. And then that, that's 'cause of the right place, uh, kind of thing. And in the right time, uh, is the cement industry

Uh, has basically been doing the same thing for 150 years


and, uh, it's, the industry has been, you know, racing to the bottom on, on price. And when you do the same thing for 150 years, um, a great way to increase your, your, your, your revenue or, or rather increase your profit is by stopping doing like major material r and d developments.



And that happens with basically every commodity product. Um, and then, uh, some big external force kind of happens and starts shaking everything up. And that big external force in this case was, um, actually fracking, right? So fracking made natural gas Jeep and then we, you know, invented the combined cycle natural gas power plant.

And those things together made it so, uh, we, we, uh, . Have this, had this other low cost way to make electricity and suddenly there wasn't this free source of, um, of, of supplementary cementitious materials.


And that story has only kind of materialized over the last few decades. Um,

and that's not, you know, really enough time for, uh, you know, these big industries to restart an r d department or, or, or anything else.


Yeah. Uh,

Molly Wood:

on some level it is that to, to sort of simplify there on some level, it's that first they couldn't be bothered 'cause the thing that works, works.

And then second, there just wasn't enough pressure,

Cody Finke:

Yeah, that's right. Yeah. And, and

there's this totally external thing, and if you're a

big cement company and you have all this, you know, all, all, all of these assets working on limestone quarries and all this technology in there, there's very little incentive to try to, you know, make something else work and you don't have the resource anyway.

And then, you know, we happen to come along at the right time, and Dave Danielson told us about cement, and we were like, okay, we have no idea. We're just scientists. Like, let's. You know, where else is calcium and, you know, it kind of gave a, you know, sort, sort of it, it, the economic conditions to make this process make sense, right?

That's a value on supplementary cementitious materials had not been around that that long and we were lucky enough to be the first people to put it all together, and I think that's really

all it is. I.

Molly Wood:

That's amazing. Okay, so now tell me a little about the process. Like to the extent that people will still understand, it sounds like it. Similar in that there's a bunch of heat applied to rocks. That's about,

that's about as far as my Creation knowledge goes

Cody Finke:

That's right. Yeah. So, so, so, um, right in the conventional process, . Um, you take limestone, you grind it up into a powder, and then you do one heating step, which releases the c o two, and then you do a second heating step, which makes the cement


in our, in our process, we take this rock, we grind it up to a powder, and we do a leaching step like they do in, you know, almost every mining process.

Um, where we basically put some liquid that reacts with the rock and it extracts the calcium from that rock.


then we take that calcium and we do a, uh, first heating step where instead of releasing c o two, we regenerate our leak agent to go be, you know, used again for New rock. And, uh, that leaves behind the calcium.

And then we second that calcium into a second heating step, which makes the ordinary Portland cement. Yeah.

Molly Wood:

And let's you, you, you went by that pretty quickly, but I feel like we should put a finer point on the fact that you have received this certification pretty recently, right? Within the last like five or six weeks


that says, yeah, no, the stuff we're making is the exact same stuff.

That's right. Yeah. So


that must've been a good day. You're

was a good day.

that's a good day,

Cody Finke:

Yeah. Yeah. We, we, uh, you know, we had our own lab data, so we knew it was coming, but it's a, a relief to, to see it happen . Right. So,

and, and to like, to put clear to, to make that clear, right. That there's, um, before us, There were two ways to make ordinary Portland cement.

The first one is what we've talked about, which

is making it from limestone makes a lot of c o two. The second one is making it from a rock called gypsum, which is the other place where there's calcium, and if you make it from gypsum, it makes sulfuric acid, which is a bit worse than c o two. So, so it's not a, it's not a good solution.

Um, but it, you know, it, it was used industrially for about. 60 years, especially in Europe when sulfuric acid was scarce. Uh, and then we started de sizing, uh, fuels for, uh, fossil fuels and sulfuric acid no longer became, was scarce. So those were the two processes, right? You could either make c o two or you could make sulfuric acid, pick your poison

Uh, and now we have, we are the, you know, the only company to make a third process, right? We are the third process to make ordinary Portland cement. And instead of making these like . So crazy chemicals, our waste product Sequesters, c o two. So

it's a, we

Molly Wood:

at what point? in the kind of r and d cycle. Did you discover that? Like, was that just an added holy crap


you know.

we, uh, my, my co-founder Hugo and I, um, we knew that from, uh, pretty early on,

um, because there's all, there's all this literature. So, so cement itself actually also sequesters c o two, and there's all this, um, but it doesn't sequester as much as it emits, right? There's still a huge net c o two

emissions, but cement itself sequences c o two.

So, you know, we had known about this phenomenon of . You know, rock things sequestering, c o two. Um, and when we, and, and we realized that, you know, the two major, uh, elements will do this are calcium and magnesium, and we knew we made a, a decent amount of magnesium waste product. But, uh, at, at first we didn't talk about it because we were worried that like it would be a distraction.

Um, or that, you know, . You know, people would think it'd be like too good to be true. So we'd just say, yeah, we make this magnesium waste product. And then one of our investors, a guy named Cooper Resler, actually

was like, doesn't that sequester c o two? And we're like, . Yes, it does

So we, we, we, yeah, we, this is like, um,

it was definitely

Molly Wood:

what I would've said is you should tell people that yeah,

Cody Finke:

Yeah, he did. And then we tell people that, so we're telling you and told other people


yeah. Um, but, but yeah, it's, it, it, it wasn't part of the plan, right? We were just looking for calcium, but it just happened. The g we, like, we, unfortunately, we don't control the geology in the world. It happens that calcium magnesium tend to go into similar rocks.

So in all the rocks that contain. Calcium but do not contain c O two. They also contain magnesium, so we make that waste product.

Molly Wood:

It's so, it's so interesting and vaguely upsetting to think about how many things that we are doing. Like just because we always have and just because there's been no pressure not to, you know, you sort of have this idea that given the opportunity, like of course people would try to find a better way to do something, but in fact 150 years of cement production in exactly the same way for no real good reason except that it worked fine,


has, you know, led us to this point

where really like, and it's not to take away from anything that you have done.

You are

obviously clearly Brilliant and have worked really hard at this and we're really intentional about it, but like it was doable.

Cody Finke:

Y Yeah. Well, thank you. I, I, I sort of disagree. I think it's like, it's, it, it, it is totally doable. I, I don't like, that's what, like, I, that's the part I really agree with, you know? It's like, it's like absolutely it was doable.

Um, and like, I, I, like, you know, , we're working in a white space where there aren't that many people working on.

So I think like in those places, there's like fairly, you know, reasonably obvious. You know, low hanging fruit to pick, I guess. Um, but it, you know, it, I, I

think that,

Molly Wood:

feel like seven other people left that room with and each picked a white space? Like fingers crossed

you know,

I'm gonna

track 'em all down.

but I really hope so. Although this guy, Dave

Danielson, he's prolific and, you know, there's, you know, breakthrough Energy Ventures as the company he works for, they've

invested in a lot of different companies. Um, so, so I think he's probably inspired quite a few people,

um, which, so yeah, good for, good for him, um,

So where are you? You know, let's talk about speed for a minute, um, and scale. With respect to John dor,

where are you in the commercialization kind of, um, timeline?

Cody Finke:

Yeah. So we still have some pretty big to-do list items, right? So, um, right now we are, you know, working on design and, and, and, and build out of our pilot plant, um, which will be, you know, sort of the first, um, The first actual freestanding, continuous plant that models this economic system, uh, that will be economic at scale.

Uh, and as we've said other places that's gonna be outside of Reno, uh, Nevada. And then, um, from there we'll scale up. And the to-do list items include, uh, building our first full scale cement plant and then, uh, building 3000 more to decarbonize the industry. Uh, so . Uh, there, there, there's it. It's not a, it's not a short road ahead of us,

um, but it's definitely feels like a worthwhile road.

No pun intended … am I right? So I know it can be frustrating to hear about solutions that are so cool and innovative and then you know they're going to take five or 10 years or so to be widely commercially available … but I still think it's important to know that it's all happening at once … because the story is never actually over.

I should note here that when it comes to tailwinds … one other thing Cody mentioned is that the Inflation Reduction Act includes something like 6 billion dollars in capital to put toward heavy industry … including cement …

And the Department of Energy has set up loan programs to finance things like … you now … developing all new ways to make something as critical and widespread as cement …

And it is all progress … toward the goal … of a cleaner … healthier future … for all of us.

Together … we can get this done.

OH … and hey … if you're a scientist or entrepreneur looking for your OWN white space opportunity in climate tech … Cody told me the other topics from the talk included aluminum … fertilizer … steel … and out-of-the-box ideas like genetically engineered crops and who knows what other sci-fi concepts might be in your brain.

Spoiler … I've got at least two of those topics covered … in future episodes.

That's it for this episode of Everybody in the Pool … thank you so much for listening …

Email me your thoughts and suggestions to in AT everybody in the pool dot com AND … find all the latest episodes and more at everybody in the pool dot com … the website!

And if you want to become a subscriber and get an ad-free version of the show … hit the link in the description … in your podcast app of choice. Thank you … to those of you who already have!

See you next week.

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