Professor's Sustainability Startup Named One of Time's Best Inventions of 2023
Time recently released its Best Inventions of 2023 list, highlighting 200 new products capable of making huge impacts, particularly in the fields of AI, green energy and sustainability. Equatic, a Los Angeles-based company co-founded by Erika La Plante, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Davis, earned this year's accolade for its innovative decarbonization technology.
La Plante serves as head of measurement, reporting and verification, or MRV, and environmental impact assessment for Equatic. The startup accelerates and amplifies the ocean's natural ability to absorb and permanently store massive amounts of carbon with a process called electrolysis, in which an electrical current is sent through seawater. The company then uses direct air capture to pass atmospheric air through the processed seawater, removing carbon dioxide and creating hydrogen, a clean energy source.
"By having a single process that produces two valuable products, it allows us to dramatically reduce our costs and increase the long-term scalability of our technology," La Plante said on a panel on carbon capture, utilization and storage at the annual meeting of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
Equatic came about during La Plante's term as a postdoctoral researcher, project scientist and lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research helped form the basis of Equatic's carbon removal technology, and she currently leads the company's efforts related to carbon dioxide equilibration inside the battery limit of the plant, allowing Equatic to accurately measure carbon removal down to the gram.
"We are delighted about this recognition from Time," she said of receiving the award, "and are excited to develop the technology further to reach gigatonne-scale carbon dioxide removal."