The Economist and InnoCentive, Inc. have announced the winner of their Reverse Climate Change Challenge. Mario Rosato, founder of Sustainable TechnologiesSL, was awarded $10,000 and presented his winning plan at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Intelligent Infrastructure Event on February 16-17. The Challenge, which prompted the opening of more than 600 project rooms and received more than 70 submissions on the InnoCentive website, asked participants to identify promising ideas for the biological capture and sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Rosato’s plan involves extracting energy from organic wastes without releasing carbon dioxide emissions, and recovering nitrogen to boost the growth of the giant bamboo, which can replace trees for timber and paper making. Energy can be recovered from organic wastes by a controlled fermentative process called dark fermentation. This yields hydrogen as a final product, which can be used to produce electricity using only water vapor as a combustion product. The sludge and water remaining after dark fermentation contain high amounts of carbon and nitrogen, and act as natural fertilizers for the giant bamboo.
“This Challenge allowed us to identify a new and innovative solution for fighting climate change,” said Vijay Vaitheeswaran, global correspondent for The Economist. “Mario Rosato’s plan could play an important role in the future, and we were pleased that he could join us at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Intelligent Infrastructure event to explain his plan in further detail and to present it to the larger community.”
“Climate change is a problem that matters to every living creature on this planet.” said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive. “In Mario’s solution, we have a powerful new tool to combat this problem, which couples naturally growing and safe materials with attractive economics to put forward an efficient, scalable, and practical approach. We are very excited that through our partnership with The Economist, the solution will actually be seen by the people who can advance the solution.”
The winner was chosen by The Economist-InnoCentive Challenge advisory board which consists of Stewart Brand, co-founder and president of The Long Now Foundation and co-founder of Global Business Network; Michael E. Driscoll, founder of Dataspora LLC and co-founder of Metamarkets; Drew Endy, assistant professor of Synthetic Biology at Stanford University; Allen Norren, vice-president of online marketing at O’Reilly Media; and Vijay Vaitheeswaran, global correspondent for The Economist.