Did Boeing Find a Replacement for Halon 1301?

July 19, 2021
An Alaska Airlines 737-9 is serving as the flying test lab for Boeing’s 2021 ecoDemonstrator program, which will evaluate about 20 technology projects. (Boeing rendering)


By Boeing
Cision PR Newswire

SEATTLE — Boeing and Alaska Airlines announced they are partnering on the latest Boeing ecoDemonstrator program and will flight test about 20 technologies on a new 737-9 to enhance the safety and sustainability of air travel.

In flights beginning this summer, Boeing and Alaska will test a new halon-free fire-extinguishing agent that significantly reduces effects on the ozone layer, evaluate an engine nacelle designed to reduce noise and assess cabin sidewalls made from recycled material, among other projects.

“We have a long history of working with Boeing to advance aviation technology, safety and fuel efficiency,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ vice president, public affairs and sustainability. “Alaska Airlines flies to some of the most beautiful and geographically diverse regions in the world and we are committed to finding ways to reduce climate impacts across our network. This work with Boeing to accelerate innovation on the ecoDemonstrator program enables us to contribute to a more sustainable future for our global community.”

Since 2012, the ecoDemonstrator program has accelerated innovation by taking nearly 200 promising technologies out of the lab and testing them in the air to address challenges for the aviation industry and improve the passenger experience.

“Boeing is committed to continually improve air safety and the environmental performance of our products,” said Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO. “We’re proud to collaborate with our hometown customer and other partners around the world this year to make flying more sustainable.”

In five months of ecoDemonstrator flight tests, Boeing and Alaska will work with nine other partners to test new technologies. After tests are complete, the airplane will be configured for passenger service and delivered to Alaska. The program’s technologies include:

  • Testing a new fire extinguishing agent for aircraft that significantly reduces effects on the ozone layer. This material is intended to replace Halon 1301, which is no longer being produced.
  • Collaborating with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to measure greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere to support the agency’s climate modeling and long-term forecasting.
  • Evaluating acoustic lining concepts within the engine nacelle that may reduce noise on current engines and will inform designs for next-generation models.
  • Recycling carbon composite material from Boeing 777X wing production into a cabin sidewall panel. This durable, light material would reduce fuel use and carbon emissions, and supports Boeing’s goals for sustainable manufacturing.

Boeing’s current and future airplanes leverage a number of technologies evaluated in previous ecoDemonstrator testing, including:

  • Advanced Technology winglets on the 737 MAX family that reduce fuel use and emissions.
  • iPad apps that provide real-time weather and other data to pilots, improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions. These apps complement digital analytics services Boeing offers to help airlines optimize fleet utilization.
  • A camera system on the new 777X that will enhance safety by helping pilots avoid obstacles on the ground.

“Boeing put additional emphasis on sustainability in 2020 to align with our stakeholder and business priorities as well as our values,” Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Raymond said. “Through our collaboration with industry partners, the ecoDemonstrator program is a great example of our commitment to work together to make flying safer and more sustainable for current and future generations.”

ecoDemonstrator test flights are flown on a blend of petroleum-based and sustainable aviation fuel. SAF is in regular use today, reduces life-cycle CO2 emissions by up to 80%, and offers the most immediate and greatest potential to reduce emissions over the next 20 to 30 years in all commercial aviation markets.

In January this year, Boeing committed to make sure its commercial airplanes are capable and certified to fly on 100% SAF by 2030. The company also plans to work with regulatory authorities and across the industry to raise the current 50% blending limit for expanded use of SAF. Boeing’s 2018 ecoDemonstrator 777 Freighter made history as the world’s first commercial airliner to fly on 100% sustainable fuel.

Learn more at boeing.com/ecodemonstrator.

As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial airplanes, defense products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. As a top U.S. exporter, the company leverages the talents of a global supplier base to advance economic opportunity, sustainability and community impact. Boeing’s diverse team is committed to innovating for the future and living the company’s core values of safety, quality and integrity. Learn more at www.boeing.com.

Alaska Airlines and its regional partners serve more than 120 destinations across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. The airline emphasizes Next-Level Care for its guests, along with providing low fares, award-winning customer service and sustainability efforts. On March 31, 2021, Alaska became the 14th member of oneworld. With the global alliance and Alaska Airlines’ additional partners, guests can travel to more than 1,000 destinations on more than 20 airlines while earning and redeeming miles on flights to locations around the world. Learn more at newsroom.alaskaair.com and blog.alaskaair.com.

Ivan Gale
Boeing Communications
+1 (571) 228-0974

Paul McElroy
Boeing Communications
+1 (425) 283-7740

Alaska Airlines Communications
+1 (206) 304-0008


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The original story can be found here.

An Interview with Todd Stevens, Immediate Past President of the FSSA

June 25, 2021

1. What is your role at your company?

Operations Manager at Industrial Fire Protection (IFP)

2. Tell us about your family.

I have been married for over twenty years to my wife Kelly. We have had multiple dogs over the years. Currently, we have two fur kids. My parents, sister and brothers are all very important in my life. We are all very close. I would not be where I am today if it were not for each one of them. Being the youngest, they have all provided me with guidance over the years.

3. What was your dream job growing up?

Not sure I had a “dream” job. I did have a magazine when I was real young, with photos of very expensive sailboats. I used to pretend that it was a sales brochure, and I would try to sell the boats to customers. I made sure that I pointed out the technical specs with each one. I guess I always liked the idea of technical sales but did not know it.

4. What was your first job?

I started working for a wholesale greenhouse next door to my house when I was in junior high. I learned a lot about plants/flowers and had the opportunity to meet some great people. I worked there on and off till I was in my mid 20s.

5. How did you get into the fire protection industry? Please describe your first job within the industry.

When I was in high school, I took classes to learn AutoCAD. After my first year of college, I started working part time at a small consulting engineering firm basically drawing lines and circles. The electrical, mechanical, and plumbing/fire protection engineers would red line prints and throw them over the wall for us CAD nerds to draw them up. They offered me a full-time position and I accepted with one condition — I wanted to learn what those lines and circles meant. I wanted to do what the engineers did. I chose Plumbing/FP because I enjoyed that the most. I started learning everything I could about FP and continue to learn more about our industry every day.

6. Over the course of your career, what has been the biggest change you have seen in the industry?

I have been in the industry for over 20 years, beginning in design. I think the most impressive change has been the design process and the development of drawing software over the years. I remember making blueprints or learning to draw on mylar. Now we can create a full 3-dimensional, virtual, fully coordinated building with all trades before they even dig a hole in the ground. The technology for designing building fire protection has really impressed me over the years.

7. What do you love most about your job? Least?

I think the thing I love the most about my job is the people in our industry. I have the opportunity to interact with extremely knowledgeable, professional, friendly individuals which helps to make it feel less like work and allows me to learn from others every day. For least, I hate that it sometimes feels like there is not enough time in a day to get everything completed.

8. What is your favorite movie?

The entire Rocky series… The 6th one is my favorite, and the 5th is the worse. I believe they are motivational because they teach strength and perseverance, never giving up and giving it your all, always.

9. What is the best piece of advice that you were ever given?

Work hard, play hard.

10. Who inspires you?

My mentor and friend Paul Theriault. Paul did a lot for our fire protection industry in the New England area. He was well known for his knowledge, hard work ethic, and for just being an amazing guy. He unfortunately passed away way too young but continues to inspire me every day.

11. Who gave you your first break?

When I started at the consultant engineering firm, Roger Bernard helped me find my place. Roger believed in me before I believed in myself. He always encouraged and pushed me to learn and do my best.

12. Would you rather take an ocean, mountain or lake vacation?

Can I choose a cabin in the mountains next to a lake?

13. If you had one “Do Over,” how would you use it?

Spend more time with family members that are no longer with us.

14. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being with family, sharing and listening to how each of their days were.

15. What is your greatest fear?

Drowning… I like boats, snorkeling, and swimming so I am not afraid of the water, just afraid of drowning. I know that makes no sense.

16. What is the trait you most dislike in yourself?

I do not like when I hesitate with decisions; I sometimes overthink things. I wish I could be more direct and confident in my decisions.

17. What is the trait you most dislike in others?

Dishonesty. I am an adult; I can handle the situation. Just do not lie to be about it.

18. Which living person do you most admire?

My brother Chris, he is a successful business owner, amazing husband, great father, and just a good person that cares about everyone else’s needs first.

19. What is your greatest extravagance?

Bourbon… I can be a bit of a bourbon snob, haha.

20. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Looking back at some of my answers I guess I use “very” too much.

21. Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could play the piano. I have played the guitar most of my life, and there is music talent in my family, but I could never learn the piano. I always loved listening to my grandmother play the organ.

22. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Being honored by my peers to be elected President of the Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA) was amazing to me.

23. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Probably one of our dogs because my wife likes them more than me.

24. Where would you most like to live?

I would love the opportunity to live in London even for a short time.

25. What is your most treasured possession?

The amazing memories I have created.

26. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?


27. What do you most value in your friends?

Being able to reach out to them and they are there, no matter what.

28. Who are your favorite writers?

I don’t have a favorite writer. I really enjoy reading autobiographies and motivational stories.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Not sure if he is a historical figure but I would say Teddy Bruschi, former linebacker of the New England Patriots. His story is inspiring, he was loyal to the Patriots, extremely hard working, and humble. Not sure I have all those qualities, but I certainly try hard every day to achieve them.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

That has to be my mom. There is no one else in this world that has done more for me.

31. What are your favorite names?

I am going to go with my two current dog’s names: Bandit and Josie.

32. What is your motto?

You win some, you lose some.

The Hiller Companies Announces New CEO/President

June 24, 2021

An Interview with Pam Boyer

April 16, 2021

1. What is your role at your company?

President and CEO

2. Tell us about your family.

I have one daughter, Shelley, and one granddaughter, Pamela, and cherished extended family.  My granddaughter will be 18 in July and she is my heart.

3. What was your dream job growing up?

I originally wanted to be an elementary school teacher, which was my major in college. However, at the time, I worked for U.S. Steel and I could not afford to teach as the pay was much less and I was on my own.

4. What was your first job?

I worked after school and on the weekend at a record store. Back then, people came in to listen to records in soundproof booths before they purchased them. During that time, I met current popular recording stars who came into the record store to promote their records. It was fun and exciting for a teenager.

5. How did you get into the fire protection industry? Please describe your first job within the industry.

Jim Boyer founded BFPE in 1970. I met Jim and we married in 1972. After my daughter Shelley was in school, I started to work for BFPE. My first job at BFPE was the service manager for the pre-engineered service department. To understand what my job entailed, I rode on service trucks for hands on training and Jim taught me everything else I needed to know.

6. Over the course of your career, what has been the biggest change you have seen in the industry?

Probably the biggest change that comes to mind for me is the Special Hazards Fire Suppression Industry and how we all had to rebuild the market after the demise of Halon 1301. None of us knew what the future would be for our businesses when production of Halon ceased in January of 1994. But I will always remember how manufacturers and distributors alike dug in and together developed a new fire suppression gas market with even more choices for our customers. This, in turn, created the market we have today. It was both a scary and exciting time for everyone in our business, but I believe that history will record it as our industry’s finest hour.

7. What do you love most about your job? Least?

I love the interaction with our people. However, as we have grown to over 900 employees, it is a challenge to keep the family atmosphere that has been the key to our success, but I work on it daily. We have amazing, caring employees that I consider my family. I truly believe that is why we have been so successful.

8. What is your favorite movie?

My favorite movies are The American President and The Sound of Music.

9. What is the best piece of advice that you were ever given?

It was from my Jim, “Take care of the customer and they will take care of you.” This has proven to hold true for BFPE over the last 50 years.

10. Who inspires you?

Jim Boyer and my family.  After Jim’s passing, continuing his dream helped me put one foot in front of the other, day after day, to take care of our BFPE family.

11. Would you rather take an ocean, mountain, or lake vacation?

My favorite vacations have always been staying at a beach house on the ocean with family and friends. Looking out at the ocean and hearing the waves crash relaxes me like nothing else in the world.

12. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Spending time with people I love, my family and friends.

13. What is your greatest fear?

I do not like being in the dark. Give me light and sunshine always.

14. What is the trait you most dislike in yourself?

I am a bit of a perfectionist but I realize that so I do not expect the same of others.

15. What is the trait you most dislike in others?


16. Which living person do you most admire?

Marlo Thomas from St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital because she continued with her father’s legacy to help cure children with cancer

17. What is your greatest extravagance?

Dark chocolate

18. What or who is the greatest love of your life? When and where were you happiest?

Anyone who knows me knows Jim was, and will always be, the love of my life. I miss him every day.

19. Which talent would you most like to have?

I would enjoy being able to play the piano. I never learned and it is a true regret.

20. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Raising a wonderful daughter, and also being able to hire so many people and take care of them and their families

21. Where would you most like to live?

On the waterfront

22. What is your most treasured possession?

The wedding ring that Jim gave me, as well as all of the photographs of my life with Jim

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Losing my husband Jim, he was the love of my life

24. What do you most value in your friends?

A positive outlook on life

25. Who are your favorite writers?

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Dickens

26. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Princess Diana because she was a humanitarian whose causes were AIDS, homelessness and mental health, a wonderful role model

27. Who are your heroes in real life?

Teachers because they have our children in their hands and they truly make a difference in their lives

28. What is your motto?

 Always be kind to everyone.

Click below to read a brochure that describes the company history from the beginning until now:

BFPE at 50 Years

April 15, 2021

How JCI Will Cut $300 Million in Expenses

March 12, 2021


By Johnson Controls International plc
Cision PR Newswire

CORK, Ireland — Johnson Controls, the global leader for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, today details multi-year SG&A actions designed to further optimize the overall cost structure, enhance operational efficiency and deliver meaningful margin expansion. These actions will deliver annualized savings of $300 million by fiscal year-end 2023 and are incremental to ongoing improvements in underlying fundamentals.

The one-time pretax costs associated with these actions are estimated at $240 million, a majority of which is expected to be recorded in fiscal 2021. These costs will be excluded from the Company’s non-GAAP (adjusted) financial results. The cash impact associated with these costs is estimated to be $200 million and will be absorbed as part of reported free cash flow conversion.

As a result of these actions, the Company is raising its outlook for fiscal 2021 adjusted EPS, to a range of $2.50 to $2.60, compared to the prior range of $2.45 to $2.55. Adjusted Segment EBITA margin is now expected to expand by 60 to 90 basis points, versus an expansion of 40 to 60 basis points previously. Full year organic revenue growth of up low-to-mid single digits, and FCF conversion of 100% remain unchanged. Fiscal Q2 guidance is also unchanged.

“After four years of significant integration and transformation-related activities, today’s announcement builds upon the success of those actions and represents a critical step forward in further enhancing profitability at Johnson Controls,” said George Oliver, Chairman and CEO. “We have a number of attractive growth opportunities in front of us, and these actions will ensure that our cost structure is effectively optimized to deliver strong operating margin expansion as we continue to execute on our strategic growth priorities.”

As previously announced, Johnson Controls Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, George Oliver and Chief Financial Officer, Olivier Leonetti are scheduled to participate in both the Barclays Industrial Select Conference and Citi 2021 Global Industrials Conference today. Messrs. Oliver and Leonetti will comment on the cost actions and the impact to Fiscal 2021 guidance during these presentations. A slide presentation with additional details, as well as a link to the live webcast for each conference, is available on the “Events” section of the company’s website at: http://investors.johnsoncontrols.com/news-and-events/events-and-presentations.

The original article can be found here.

Summit Fire & Security Announces the Purchase of Sound & Signal Systems of NM

March 1, 2021


Summit Companies

The latest addition strengthens Summit Fire & Security’s presence in Southwestern U.S. with expansion in New Mexico

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, MINNESOTA – SFP Holding, Inc. (Summit Companies) announced that Summit Fire & Security LLC, a subsidiary of SFP Holding, has completed the purchase of Sound & Signal Systems of NM, Inc. located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sound & Signal Systems has been proudly serving New Mexico since 1974, specializing in the low voltage field—including fire alarm, security, access control, card access, CCTV, intercom, nurse call, paging, and voice/data. They take pride in providing the highest quality in the design and installation of these systems while assuring that each system meets the performance and reliability demanded by customers. Sound & Signal Systems strives for excellent customer service and, because of this dedication, has remained an industry leader in New Mexico and the greater Southwest.

As Summit Fire & Security and Sound & Signal Systems join forces, there is powerful alignment with the commitment to excellent customer service and quality work. The Sound & Signal Systems team will be an excellent addition to existing operations in the Southwest.

“Ted has built a company centered around technical excellence in their field. The team he has put together has an incredibly high level of expertise to tackle the most complex of projects. This partnership solidifies our presence in New Mexico and poises us to be the market leader here,” states Nic Brown, President of Summit Fire & Security.

For the past 47 years, Sound & Signal Systems has made a mark as a well-known, highly respected business that believes in offering excellent customer service and giving back to the community. “Throughout our history, Sound & Signal Systems has remained committed to providing first-class service customers and communities. Additionally, our commitment to give back to our communities through philanthropic efforts is a source of pride for our entire team,” states Ted Jorgensen, Owner of Sound & Signal Systems.

The Sound & Signal Systems leadership team, with special recognition to Ted and Margaret Jorgensen, take pride in their philanthropic community efforts. With involvement in many foundations, along with funding the “Ted and Margaret Jorgensen Cancer Center” at the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center, Sound & Signal Systems is well-known for generosity and community involvement.

“Sound & Signal was built on a culture of hard work and excellence, and we’re proud to be a leader in this industry. I believe Summit will not only strengthen our ability to serve our customers with expanded services, but also offer our employees a successful future as they join the Summit team. We look forward to the future with Summit Fire & Security as we expand our presence across New Mexico,” states Jorgensen.

Summit Companies subsidiaries have grown quickly over the past two years through acquisitions with the addition of 14 new companies. Summit is a financially strong and healthy company, as evident from these acquisitions. As we look to the future, we are excited about our growth opportunities with the Summit Fire & Security subsidiary.

About Summit Companies
SFP Holding, Inc. (Summit Companies), through its subsidiaries, provides premier fire and life safety services with an expanding national presence. Since 1999, Summit has been a leader in the fire and life safety space with experience and capabilities that create a one-stop-shop solution for fire detection and fire suppression on a local and national scale. Summit Companies’ subsidiaries meet all of a customer’s requirements for fire protection, fire security, consulting and engineering services. SFP Holding, Inc., the parent company of the Summit Companies subsidiaries, is owned by management and CI Capital Partners, a leading North American private equity investment firm with approximately $1.3 billion in assets under management. Learn more at: https://www.SummitCompanies.com.

Airbus Says Aviation May Not Recover Until 2025

February 25, 2021


An Airbus A330 aircraft operated by Lufthansa. Airbus expects to deliver the same number of aircraft this year as it did in 2020. (Felix Schmitt for The New York Times)

By Liz Alderman
The New York Times

The aerospace giant Airbus announced a 1.1 billion euro loss for 2020 and warned that the industry might not recover from the disruption caused by the pandemic for two to four years, as new virus variants delay a resumption of worldwide air travel.

The world’s largest planemaker eliminated its dividend for a second straight year and predicted a leveling off in deliveries of its popular commercial jets, the company’s chief executive, Guillaume Faury, said.

“As of today we only expect the market to recover between 2023 and 2025,” Mr. Faury said. “The pace of recovery will depend not only on the pandemic and the rate of vaccinations, but also on the decision of governments, if they choose to tighten pandemic conditions or, as I hope, restore freedom,” he said.

The aircraft manufacturer, based in Toulouse, France, said revenue fell by 29 percent to 49.9 billion euros (about $60 billion). Still, the company is outperforming its rival Boeing, which suffered a $11.9 billion loss in 2020, weighed down by the setbacks from the 737 Max, which was grounded after 346 people were killed in two crashes involving the plane, and delays of the first deliveries of the 777X.

Airbus delivered 566 aircraft to airlines in 2020, 40 percent less than expected before the pandemic. In a sign of how badly air travel has been hit, some airlines avoided answering Airbus’s calls to alert them that the new aircraft they had ordered before the pandemic hit was ready, Mr. Faury said.

Given the uncertain outlook, Airbus won’t ramp up aircraft deliveries this year, but will instead plan to deliver about the same number of aircraft as it did in 2020. The fall in demand has left around 100 finished jets sitting parked at Airbus factories, down from a peak of around 145 last year.

Investors were not pleased with the update. Shares in Airbus fell over 3 percent in early trading.

Despite the gloomy short-term forecast, Mr. Faury said the company would continue to ramp up for a substantial change in future business, based on a new generation of carbon neutral airlines that it is designing and expects to unveil sometime this decade.

Weighing on the company’s finances were a 1.2 billion euro charge linked to more than 11,000 layoffs carried out last year, as well as another 385 million euros in costs associated with the ending of its A380 super jumbo jet.

Liz Alderman is the Paris-based chief European business correspondent, covering economic and inequality challenges around Europe. She was previously an assistant business editor, and spent five years as the business editor of what was The International Herald Tribune. @LizAldermanNYT

The original article can be found here.

The Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall – The Inside Story from Consumer Reports

February 9, 2021


It was one of the biggest recalls in government history: Millions of Kidde-brand fire extinguishers were recalled in 2017 due to serious defects.

By Consumer Reports and Ryan Yamamoto

After one of the biggest recalls in government history, a new Consumer Reports investigation finds reports of serious problems with Kidde-brand fire extinguishers.

“We sifted through years of lawsuits and public reported complaints and found allegations that Kidde knew of the problems with its fire extinguishers for years before they finally issued a recall in 2015 and again in 2017,” said Ryan Felton, Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter.

A judge recently ordered Kidde to pay a $12 million fine as part of a consent decree settling allegations by the Department of Justice that the company knowingly misled the government about the extent and scope of the problems with some of its products. Kidde did not admit that it violated federal law as part of the settlement.

But Consumer Reports also found reports on the CPSC website of consumers saying, “Kidde bungled the recall.” In some cases, replacing a recalled fire extinguisher with another recalled extinguisher.

Kidde says, they learned some of the replacement units were “damaged in transit”, adding that the company has since taken steps to provide working extinguishers to customers who received damaged devices.

So what can you do to make sure your fire extinguisher will work when you need it? First, make sure it hasn’t been recalled. You can head online to cpsc.gov to check the model number.

“If you have a recalled Kidde fire extinguisher, contact the company to have it replaced as soon as possible,” said Felton.

And here are some helpful tips about storing and using a fire extinguisher:

  • Store it where you think a fire is most likely to occur like the kitchen and garage.
  • Check the dial on the pressure gauge — it should always be within the green zone.
  • Check the manufacture date on your extinguisher, if it’s older than 12 years, replace it.
  • Make sure you and everyone in your family knows how to properly use it!

The original article can be found here.

Pulling Greenhouse Gases Out of the Air

January 28, 2021
A direct air capture system, developed by the Swiss company Climeworks, on the roof of a trash incinerator in Zurich. (Orjan Ellingvag/Alamy)


By Brad Plumer and Christopher Flavelle
The New York Times

Using technology to suck carbon dioxide out of the sky has long been dismissed as an impractical way to fight climate change — physically possible, but far too expensive to be of much use.

But as global warming accelerates and society continues to emit greenhouse gases at a dangerous rate, the idea is gaining support from a surprising source: large companies facing pressure to act on climate.

A growing number of corporations are pouring money into so-called engineered carbon removal — for example, using giant fans to pull carbon dioxide from the air and trap it. The companies say these techniques, by offsetting emissions they can’t otherwise cut, may be the only way to fulfill lofty “net zero” pledges.

Occidental Petroleum and United Airlines are investing in a large “direct air capture” plant in Texas that will use fans and chemical agents to scrub carbon dioxide from the sky and inject it underground. Stripe and Shopify, two e-commerce companies, have each begun spending at least $1 million per year on start-ups working on carbon removal techniques, such as sequestering the gas in concrete for buildings. Microsoft will soon announce detailed plans to pay to remove one million tons of carbon dioxide.

The United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said nations may need to remove between 100 billion and 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere this century to avert the worst effects of climate change — far more than can be absorbed by simply planting more trees. But many carbon removal technologies remain too expensive for widespread use, often costing $600 or more per ton of carbon.

The hope, companies say, is that early investments can help drive down prices to something more palatable — say, $100 per ton or less — much as investments in wind and solar have made those energy sources cheaper over time.

But there are risks, too. As more companies pledge to zero out their emissions by 2050, some experts warn that they could hide behind the uncertain promise of removing carbon later to avoid cutting emissions deeply today.

“Carbon removal shouldn’t be seen as a get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Jennifer Wilcox, a leading expert on the technology at the University of Pennsylvania. “It has a role to play, particularly for sectors that are very difficult to decarbonize, but it shouldn’t be an excuse for everyone to keep emitting greenhouse gases indefinitely.”

‘We have to try’

There’s widespread agreement that companies pledging to address climate change should first do everything possible to slash their emissions — say, by using more renewable power or improving energy efficiency. Most of the time, it’s easier to prevent emissions in the first place than it is to pull back carbon dioxide after it’s diffused into the atmosphere.

But that still leaves significant sources of emissions that have no easy solutions, like cement manufacturing, long-distance shipping or air travel.

United Airlines, for instance, has vowed to become carbon-neutral by 2050 and is exploring ways to cut emissions, such as more efficient aircraft and sustainable biofuels. Yet those strategies may not be enough, the airline says, which is why it also investing in direct air capture.

“If we want to make aviation sustainable, everything has to be on the table,” said Lauren Riley, managing director of global environmental affairs at United. “Carbon removal might not be a silver bullet, but we have to try.”

Traditionally, many corporations have sought to offset their hard-to-cut emissions with natural solutions, such as paying landowners to protect forests or plant trees, which absorb carbon from the air. But trees have drawbacks: there’s only so much land available and forests can burn in wildfires, releasing carbon back into the atmosphere. Scientists have warned that nature-based offsets are an imperfect fix that can be tricky to verify.

Those drawbacks have spurred interest in engineered carbon removal, using technologies to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and lock it away underground or turn it into minerals, where it is likely to remain for tens of thousands of years.

There are working prototypes of such devices. But for years, engineers developing carbon removal struggled to find investors.

“It’s a chicken-or-egg problem,” said Nan Ransohoff, head of climate at Stripe, an online payments company based in San Francisco. “The best way to bring down the cost is to start deploying these technologies at scale. But until there are actual customers, no one’s going to build them.”

To help break the impasse, Stripe announced in 2019 that it would begin spending at least $1 million annually on carbon removal, without worrying about the price per ton initially. The goal was to evaluate companies working on promising technologies and offer them a reliable stream of income.

After convening outside experts to review applications, Stripe announced its first round of payments last May. That included an agreement with Climeworks, a Swiss start-up that has already built several small direct air capture plants in Europe. Stripe also paid $250,000 to Project Vesta, a nonprofit planning to sprinkle volcanic minerals on beaches, testing to see how much carbon dioxide they absorb as the waves break them down, through a process known as enhanced weathering.

The companies receiving Stripe’s funding say the money has been crucial.

“It’s existential for us,” said Peter Reinhardt, co-founder of Charm Industrial, a start-up that Stripe is paying to remove 416 tons of carbon dioxide at $600 per ton. His company will take crop waste and convert it into an oil that can be injected underground, rather than letting the waste decay and release carbon back into the atmosphere.

Other companies are similarly investing. The German automaker Audi is paying Climeworks to capture and remove 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide from a new direct air capture facility in Iceland, scheduled to come online this year. Climeworks has also signed an agreement with Swiss Re, the insurance giant, which this month created a dedicated funding stream for carbon removal. Shopify, a Canadian e-commerce company, has already committed $1.6 million to various carbon-removal start-ups.

Christoph Gebald, Climeworks’ co-director, said his company now had more than 50 corporate clients paying to capture and store carbon dioxide. His goal is to build enough facilities to remove 30 million to 50 million tons a year from the atmosphere by 2030.

Dr. Gebald said the burst of interest reflected companies’ realization that demands for climate action will soon outstrip what can be achieved through cutting emissions and planting trees. If businesses hope to remove large amounts of carbon in 10 years, he said, they need to spend now to make sure groups like Climeworks can scale up fast enough.

“There’s no chance biological solutions will do that alone,” Dr. Gebald said.

‘A steep learning curve’

It remains to be seen, however, whether carbon removal companies can lower their prices to a level that’s attractive to the average buyer. Carbon Engineering, a Canadian company supplying the technology for the direct air capture plant in Texas, thinks it can eventually get prices down to $94 to $232 a ton.

“To finance a first plant is expensive,” said Steve Oldham, Carbon Engineering’s chief executive. The Texas facility, part of Occidental Petroleum’s strategy to use direct air capture to offset emissions even as it continues extracting oil, is scheduled to come online by 2025 and remove up to 1 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. “But as we build more plants, I have confidence those costs will come down.”

For some potential customers, price remains an issue. Boston Consulting Group, the management consulting firm, plans to purchase carbon removal to offset any emissions it can’t cut by 2030. But it has set a price target of $80 per ton, on average, and will rely more on cheaper natural solutions, at least initially.

The company plans to invest in engineered removal, said Rich Lesser, Boston Consulting Group’s chief executive, “but it will be a small portion of the mix for awhile because the technology is still nascent.”

For now, most large companies vowing to pursue carbon removal have been vague about what that actually entails, according to an analysis of corporate pledges from American University. Some talk about investing in forests and wetlands, while others are still exploring their options.

Experts say the advantages of engineered carbon removal are often poorly understood. Companies can generally earn as much good will by cheaply planting trees to offset emissions as they can by spending large sums on direct air capture — even if the latter presents a more durable solution.

“The price difference between those two options in the marketplace is enormous,” said Sasha Mackler, director of the energy project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research organization in Washington. But as far as most of the public can tell, “it sort of looks like the same thing.”

So persuading companies to pay that extra cost will require educating investors, activists and consumers about why engineered removal can take more carbon dioxide out of the air, and sequester it more reliably, than just planting trees, Mr. Mackler said.

Ultimately, experts say, policymakers may have to step in. In December, Congress authorized $447 million to research and demonstrate large-scale carbon removal. But many companies are unlikely to use it without legal requirements to slash emissions.

“If companies are serious about putting money into carbon removal now and investigating their options, that’s fantastic,” said Simon Nicholson, co-director of American University’s Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy. “But if this doesn’t work, or if carbon removal at scale isn’t as cheap as everyone hopes, then what’s Plan B?”

The original article can be found here.