Jason Salfi: Exploring a New Dimension for Clean Energy
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse stories with the mission to inspire kids and youth around the world to become empathetic entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by a character named Spiffy, with founders working on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The focus for November is on SDG 13 — Climate Action. There is so much at stake, so let’s see what’s being done!
Hi everyone, I’m Spiffy, the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making a difference on climate change. Today it is my pleasure to be talking to Jason Salfi, Co-Founder and CEO of Dimensional Energy.
Spiffy: Welcome, Jason! There are so many challenges right now when it comes to climate change. What challenge are you addressing?
Jason: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Dimensional Energy is addressing difficult-to-electrify and difficult-to-decarbonize sectors of our economy by producing carbon neutral fuels from CO2 and concentrated solar. Our HI-Light™ platform can produce liquid fuels for sectors of the economy where hydrocarbons are needed for the foreseeable future. We close the loop on industrial CO2 emissions through effective use of renewable low-cost solar for all aspects of carbon capture and utilization. This will make CO2 utilization a viable part of the solutions set to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 C˚ as per the UN IPCC report published in 2018.
Spiffy: Wow! So you’re combatting carbon emissions by imitating photosynthesis? That’s incredible! Can you tell me how you arrived at this solution, and what motivated you to work on carbon neutral solutions?
Jason: Well, Spiffy, I have focused my career on creating market driven solutions to large, seemingly intractable, global problems. I went to Cornell University to study Natural Resources Management. Regulation does not fit my personality, so I became an entrepreneur. My mission is to build business models and technologies that lead to abundance for all, and align ecology with the economy. Dimensional Energy is an extension of this. We need renewable hydrocarbons to decarbonize the aviation industry. We make carbon neutral solar fuels that fit into a circular economy.
Spiffy: How do you see this creating more equity in the world?
Jason: We are working on climate change mitigation. Climate change has the greatest effect on the developing world, and at-risk populations in the developed world. Our long term goal is to create well-paying tradesperson jobs in the clean energy sector. As we build the business, we envision accounting for all emissions and byproducts in our supply chain. This practice accounts for Scope 3 emissions, rather than pushing them off to invisible partners, subsidiaries, or customers.
Spiffy: The world needs to move in that direction! Has Dimensional Energy achieved any important milestones lately?
Jason: Yes! Dimensional Energy just completed a 60-day run with our first on-sun field pilot for the Carbon XPrize Finals. We proved to ourselves and our investors that CO2 utilization can be profitable and provide a net benefit, over status quo. Analysts from the private sector research institutions and the United Nations all agree that CO2 utilization is necessary to ward off the worst effects of climate change, and that CO2 utilization will activate a trillion-dollar sector of our economy.
Team Dimensional Energy on the first day commissioning their Carbon X-Prize pilot to make fuel from carbon dioxide and sunlight.
Spiffy: Has it been a smooth ride to get to where you are? Have you ever experienced any roadblocks or failures?
Jason: Actually Spiffy, I have had extreme financial struggles with prior businesses. It worked out well in the end, but I took those hard times personally, disrespecting both myself and the process. Failure is a state of mind that I push myself to grow away from. These are the times where we can learn empathy and humility. Some processes just take more work than others. It’s just a form of physics. When you take work and achievements personally, that is your ego taking control. Learning that your process, model, or technology does not work, or won’t make money, is not failure. It is a part of the process. There is always a path forward if we pay attention.
Spiffy: It sounds like your life is full of interesting insights and surprises. Do you have any other curious discoveries or bits of wisdom for our audience?
Jason: Spiffy, did you know that there is an arrow on your fuel gauge that tells you what side to fill up your car on?
Spiffy: Brilliant! I had no idea! I might need to do that to my spaceship!
Jason: Oh, and Spiffy, I just want to say, it’s never a bad idea to make tea.
Spiffy: I agree! Thank you Jason, for enlightening us, it’s been an honor speaking with you.
Jason Salfi is Co-Founder and CEO of Dimensional Energy, a clean energy company that makes jet fuel from carbon dioxide and concentrated sunlight. Salfi has served as an Innovation Advisor for New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) (Nominated by NextCorps)
© 2020 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s stories of founders building a more equitable world at www.ladderworks.co/blogs/spiffys-blog.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.