We know that plastic is a big problem. Of the billion tons plus we produce annually, only 7-9% actually gets recycled – the rest ends up in our landfills and waterways. What if we could take the plastic littering our planet and turn it into something useful? That’s exactly Lloyd Spencer’s goal. As the Chairman, President and CEO of CarbonMeta Technologies, Lloyd has helped shape the ambitious vision for his company: to up-cycle plastic waste into high value carbon products – like graphite, carbon nanotubes, and graphene – and hydrogen products – like green fuel.
In this episode of Energy Superheroes, Lloyd chats about the fascinating technology behind CarbonMeta, how his broad background has helped shape his career, and his advice for young people worried about our planet:
- When you break it down to a molecular level, plastic is really just a bunch of carbon and hydrogen (with a few other lesser elements in the mix). Lloyd’s company uses novel technology patented by the University of Oxford to dissolve chemical bonds and release both the carbon and hydrogen from the plastic. By mixing plastic with a catalyst and then putting the combination in a microwave-like device, CarbonMeta can separate the individual elements and make them into something useful – whether that is graphite for battery anodes or hydrogen-based green fuel. Unlike typical recycling methods, CarbonMeta’s tech isn’t picky about what types of plastics it can process or how clean the materials need to be, making this a better solution for hard-to-handle waste.
- Lloyd thanks his insatiable curiosity for his success. He encourages all innovators to follow what interests them and collect a variety of skills in their lifetime – you never know where it may lead you. Lloyd has dabbled in computer science, business law, robotics, and much more throughout his career – all of which opened doors for him and presented him with unexpected opportunities.
- Lloyd is highly optimistic about our climate future. He points to the fact that humans have always been incredibly resourceful in the face of a challenge and sees climate change as no different. For young people especially, Lloyd believes that the climate change dilemma holds incredible opportunity to make a lasting difference. Today’s youth have a better understanding of the bigger global picture and access to technological tools that were not available decades ago.
[00:00:00] Peter Perri: And we are live today on Energy Superheroes with Peter Perri, we have Lloyd Spencer and Lloyd is taking plastics out of the oceans and turning it into green fuel. It’s pretty amazing. He is with CarbonMeta Technologies and he’s going to tell us about how he’s doing it today and plus a lot of other cool stuff about, about him.
Personally. We look forward to hearing from Lloyd. Lloyd. Thanks for being on. So you told me before we started that, uh, carbon Mehta technologies, um, Taking waste and plastic and turning it into hydrogen and carbon nanotubes. That’s a mouthful. Tell me about that.
[00:00:44] Lloyd Spencer: Well, you know, um, probably about a year and a half ago, I, um, I bumped into an article that was published by university of Oxford and Peter Edwards from, uh, University of Oxford.
And it was a. Uh, unpaid a new technique of taking, uh, microwaves. It’s just like the microwave in your home, maybe a little more specialized in that, and then taking plastic and you mix it with a catalyst, which is a, uh, I’ll call it a flavor of iron filings almost. And you heat it up very hot. Well, over 300 degrees, centigrade being red hot, really, and out of that comes.
And that was the lead of this whole article was you can get hydrogen, not a plastic. So, uh, you know, I did a little research on it and, uh, and in fact I called Peter and, um, it turns out he had gone to Cornell university at the same time I did, he was a grad student. I was an undergrad, so we had a lot to talk about there, but then we really got down into.
How this worked. And we, most people, even when you look at plastic, you don’t really think about what it is, but in fact, plastic is composed of a lot of carbon and it’s got hydrogens hanging all over it. So, you know, when you look at. a molecular model, right? when you look at plastic it’s a long strand of these things.
Well, you’ve got lots of little carbons. You’ve got a little bit of oxygen. You’ve got a lot of hydrogen as the whites are all hydrogens. So as it turns out when they put this catalyst and with a microwave, it basically loosens up the hydrogen and they come off and you end up with hydrogen, lots of hydrogen.
So, um, we, uh, we looked into it and I. I asked them the details about it. And we came down to an understanding that really when you take plastic in and it can be other organic, uh Cheryl’s as well. Um, you end up getting probably around 5% of the, of the weight of that plastic out as hydrogen. And you end up getting about 70, maybe 80% of the rest coming out as carbon black.
And when I asked about what the carbon black. It was a mixture of graphite, like used in, you know, uh, uh, for. Uh, for, you know, lubrication, for example, they’re used in all kinds of, uh, uh, uh, processes from making anodes of batteries. Uh, so it looked like there was something of value there. And then he brought up this thing of carbon nanotubes, and that was even more conductive than graphite.
So I thought, okay, there’s a business here that can be had. So that’s really how it started was an article and a conversation. Okay.
[00:03:35] Peter Perri: Unbelievable. And plastic is so bad for the environment. I know there’s a ton. I’m going to use a technical word. There’s a crap ton of plastic in the ocean.
[00:03:49] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah, there are billions of tons being put into the environment. We, we produce well over a billion tons annually that go into the ocean or landfills only about seven, eight, 9% of it, depending on where you live actually gets recycled the rest of the. Yeah, the rest gets thrown away. Uh, it gets tossed in the waterways.
Uh, some of it’s even microplastics, uh, you know, from even, uh, you know, the, the clothing we wear is made of plastic. And when it, when it sheds a little bit, it ends up going into the ocean and the waterways. So there’s a lot of.
[00:04:33] Peter Perri: Unbelievable. Yeah. I saw something there’s like an island, the size of Texas or something out there in the Pacific ocean.
That’s all made up of.
[00:04:42] Lloyd Spencer: And, you know, we, we did call, uh, the, um, uh, there’s a group that is focusing on oceans, uh, cleaning up plastic out of the oceans. And we talked to them about, uh, it’s called ocean cleanup. And we talked to them about, uh, could we come up with a partnership? So we’re looking at expanding on where we’re going.
So right now we’re taking the process that came. That was made by university of Oxford that we’re scaling it up. And as we scale it up, we’re going to be putting together a I’ll call it a modular system where maybe it could even be put on shipboard, but we’re definitely gonna put it over where the ports are.
So as the plastic comes in, we can actually process it right there.
[00:05:28] Peter Perri: That is absolutely brilliant. Now I know all the investors out there are going to want to know. Do you guys have patents on this stuff? Are you guys patent it? Yeah,
[00:05:37] Lloyd Spencer: this was patented by university of Oxford. So we have the exclusive license for that, uh, in Europe and the United States.
And so we’re working hand in hand with the university of Oxford, with Peter, with Peter Edwards and, um, and a couple of folks from his team. And, um, there’s also a group called the it’s called K C S T king of duels, city of science and technology in Saudi Arabia. And we are also working with them. They were a part of the development of that patent to start with and what we’re, we are putting together a working relationship with them.
Um, so there’ll be more news on that in the coming weeks. I would say probably the next four to six weeks, something like that.
[00:06:20] Peter Perri: Amazing. Can you, can you at least give us a little taste of what the news might be coming out or is it completely a underrated.
[00:06:29] Lloyd Spencer: Um, well, what, I’ll, what I’ll generally say, it’s pretty under wraps, admittedly, but I’ll generally say that we are being working together on commercializing the patent.
Um, they they’ve already, they’ve already been working on that for a while, but we, we, uh, we’ve already found that we have a lot in common and that we, um, we actually have a very common vision and so they’re going to help us out there. So you’ll, you’ll see something along those lines.
[00:06:56] Peter Perri: It sounds amazing.
Now the Saudis of course have a lot of capital to invest, but I’m curious, have you guys taken outside investment capital at this point? Are you looking for it? What’s your plan for funding? The business?
[00:07:08] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah, we, we, uh, we put up what’s called a reggae, so we brought in some funding that way we’ll be publishing an in about probably two to four weeks.
And at that point, we are looking to take in some capital there and there are some interesting projects coming our way beyond, even plastic. So, uh, we’ve uh, we’ve had some inquiries around taking, um, I’ll call it agricultural waste. Could we take our agricultural ways, use the similar or same process? I would say it’s a similar process.
Very similar. Uh, another one is, could we even take things like coal waste, for example, and the answer. Yes, we could, again, it’s going to be a similar kind of process. So that’s what we’re researching right now. That is kind of the next step, if you will. So yeah, without a doubt, we are looking for some, uh, I would like to call it partnerships, uh, and, and investment together.
So especially a group that has. Uh, lots of ways, plastic, um, or lots of other organic ways and want to do a joint venture together where we can bring the technology in turns out that we have a good working relationship with a couple of microwave equipment companies. And it’s very, it’s very specialized areas.
It’s not like the microwave in your home, conceptually. It is, but it’s a, it’s a very different kind of a reactor and there’s, there’s a lot of. Uh, scaling a lot of scaling issues. It’s, uh, as I have learned, and I’ve been told many times by, uh, companies in the microwave business, there is very little, that’s intuitive about microwaves.
If you assume how long it’s going to take to heat something up, it’s not it’s, it turns out it doesn’t necessarily end up that way. Um, sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse, but it doesn’t work that way. So you have to learn, you have to go ahead. Look at each instance. So what material you’re going to work with, what kind of catalysts, and you have to go ahead and model it and try it each step of the way.
[00:09:15] Peter Perri: Gotcha. Yeah. So when you mentioned an investor, that’s got a lot of plastic. I always think about waste management, which is right down here in south Florida. Um, and I think they’re national, but there are a waste, uh, here, um, and do a great job at, in terms of recycling.
[00:09:33] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah, we’d love to be talking with somebody like waste management.
We are talking to some, uh, I’ll call it smaller companies that are still putting in quite a bit of blast there. We’re talking to one company that brings in about a, about a ton and a half a week. So, um, which is a lot of plastic. And just, just to kind of give a little perspective on this. So one ton of plastic, uh, brings in about.
Let me see 50 kilograms of hydrogen and that amount of hydrogen generates about 1.6. Um, one and a half megawatt hours of power. So it’s a significant amount of hydrogen that comes out of it. And it’s rather surprising when the first time I saw the process it’s um, you have to wait maybe around 2, 3, 4 minutes, and then all of a sudden the engine comes out.
It’s quite remarkable. It really.
[00:10:31] Peter Perri: And that sounds that that does sound extremely remarkable. And of course, I have to give a shout out to my high school pine crest school where Wayne Heising goes famous alumni and was very big in the waste business. So, um, I’m sure, um, the family might be interested in this type of a thing, cause I know there’s still a hundred in the company, but, um, that’s a, that’s super exciting.
Um, what else on the business front are you guys this, this process you say it’s modular. Which is interesting because when you say using a food waste or other types of waste digestion that converts into bio gas, right. So how is this different from that? Is it, is it more modular, more replicatable more efficient, um, compared with the traditional aerobic diet, uh, excuse me, anaerobic.
[00:11:19] Lloyd Spencer: Well, so every, every process has its characteristics, but I would say that in the case with anaerobic digestion, uh, what you’re doing is you using bacteria and, and other, um, most of the bacteria to go ahead and continue. That hydrogen and carbon into methane. So you’re taking the carbon into one format and then putting it into another format and then using the methane to take it out.
This is different. What it’s actually doing is you’re actually separating the carbon right from the hydrogens and you’re taking the hydrogen right off of the, uh, so it’s, uh, and they’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, you could end up doing something like where you. The product or anaerobic digestion and you get your methane out, but there’s always material left over and you can take that leftover material and then you can further process it and get your hydrogen and carbon out of it that way.
[00:12:21] Peter Perri: so that’s exciting. That could, could be, it could be incremental on top of. In a row with digestive process.
[00:12:28] Lloyd Spencer: Exactly. I mean, really, if you name any of the agricultural commodities out there, uh, you could be, you know, the grain harvesters, right? So they go ahead and they get their grain in your leftover with the straw.
There’s lots of things you do with straw and you can sell it as straw. You can also go out and take that are cultural ways that you could go ahead and process it into. The hydrogen and the carbon block it, the nice part of this process is it doesn’t have to be perfectly clean and that’s especially important with the plastic business, the plastic recyclers they’re one of their main issues is it’s difficult for them to handle some of the really floppy plastics out there.
Like, like the chip bags. Those are. That, that type of plastic is called bop bop. And that plastic is really hard to put through a, um, a, a recycling system. Cause it jams up the machinery the same with, uh, the plastic bags that are polyethylene. Um, those really have a hard time getting processed. It’s the rigid plastics and a much easier, uh, another thing though is if you’re talking to any of the plastic recyclers, they will not take PVC because it has chlorine.
So they don’t want to even talk about that. But in this case, we can take PO PVC is still at the handle, the chlorine that has to be dealt with, but we can do that. We figured out a way to actually take the gas coming out of that and capture the chlorine. And that way it’s not going to be damaging other parts, but you still get your hydrogen, which is the benefit.
And you still get a carbon black, which.
[00:14:06] Peter Perri: That’s that’s amazing. So let’s get, let’s get down to brass tacks. When do you think the first one of these plants is going to be a live and operate?
[00:14:16] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah. So we’re right now scaling up to where we can get the 50 kilograms, if not even a hundred kilograms, uh, towards the end of this year.
That’s the goal I have right now, but I do have a couple of discussions going on right now where I was asked very specifically, how do I get, how can we get, um, to handling one ton or three times? Per day. And, um, I have found a way to do that. It takes a fair amount of capital. So we’re talking somewhere between five and $7 million worth of capital to do that.
But we are having that kind of discussion right now. And, uh, it’s going it’s, it’s moving along a little faster than I expected.
[00:14:58] Peter Perri: No, that’s that’s great news. The whole thing sounds like it’s moving very quickly. You know, so that that’s exciting. Let’s, let’s transition into some of the more personal stuff.
How, what, what sort of mindset habit, or skill have, have, has helped make you, uh, be so successful in moving.
[00:15:18] Lloyd Spencer: Well, a couple things that I guess a pointed out to me sometimes by others, which they say I have this, uh, uh, never-ending curiosity for Gee you know, uh, I don’t know, let’s go find out. Um, it’s kinda like when I bumped into that article with Peter Edwards and the first thing I did was I said, well, let me go give Peter a call.
You know, I’m just a little bit. Uh, I don’t know if it’s adventurous or naive, but that’s exactly what I typically do. If I don’t know something, I’ll say let’s go find out, let’s go figure it out. And I’ve always, I’ve always kind of been that way. Uh, even when I was in college, you know, I, I took various courses even though.
I had no idea how I would ever use it in the future sometimes. So my immuno, my freshman year of college, I took a Fortran course. I had no idea what Fortran was going to be. I didn’t know what Fortran was quite frankly, but I said, well, I’ll take computer science because it seems interesting. And I ended up eventually getting a job working if you’re a Packard many years later, uh, in, in computer science.
But had I not even taken that course. I wouldn’t even thought about computer science and, and even in, uh, even I took a course in business law when I was at Cornell and I didn’t really need business law, but it seemed interesting. And I took that and it’s been a very, very helpful thing when I’m working on contract law.
So I would say that it’s been along the lines of, uh, It collect skills because it seems interesting and maybe it’ll be useful in the future and it opens doors. That’s really what it does is it offers you the opportunity because you have the familiarity with it. And, and that goes in the case with, uh, with, with chemistry, you know, I, I took, uh, originally originally a biology major.
I was, uh, I took a course in animal science at Cornell immunology, cell biology and biochemistry. And I even started my PhD in immunogenetics of Cornell, but I didn’t finish it up. Actually went, did a complete sidestep into computer science, but you know, here we are many years later and, uh, it’s a remarkably useful gift, um, that when I talk with, uh, the scientists, you know, over at university of Oxford, you know, they know that I can.
Keep up. I can understand what’s going on. And I can also map that into the business side. That’s really the hardest part of all of these technologies. And I certainly learned that. The work I did with robotics, which is, it can be a fantastic idea. It can be an exciting idea. Um, but it doesn’t necessarily pan out financially.
There are all kinds of issues that get in the way of a solid business. I, I like this business particularly. I, I really do. I, um, I like, uh, Because two or three parts of it. One is that there is a sustainable part of this business that there’s a never ending supply of waste, plastic and other waste materials that are there based on carton.
So that’s not going to be an issue. Um, and there’s a valuable output that comes from this whole thing, which is the carbon and as well as the. And lastly, I was going to say the last part is it’s doing something good for the environment and that’s, uh, that’s not always the case.
[00:18:56] Peter Perri: No, that is, that is absolutely huge.
And I think a lot of the audiences in this, for that reason, you know, we want to leave a better planet to our children and there’s, none of us is sticking around for the long run. So it’s, it’s a good idea to make sure we take care of the next generation, but I’ll say. You know, curiosity is huge. And I think that’s an important trait, because as you said, I’ll give a shout out to a guy that I follow online named Scott Adams, and he talks about something called a talent.
Which I think is huge. And there’s basically a multiplier effect. As you add different talents to your stack of capabilities that, uh, gives you a greater value in the marketplace to compare to somebody who’s purely a specialist. So, um, definitely check out Scott Adams online, um, for more information about the talent stack, but I’ll ask you on that when you do that, and I’m a person that’s done that myself, you didn’t call it a Renaissance.
You can, you can definitely run into some walls and potentially fail sometimes. Um, and they call it failing forward, which I’m a big believer in. Can you talk about something like that that’s happened in your career and what you learned from it and how, how that helped you position for where you are?
[00:20:06] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah, I think there are a couple of, uh, there’s a technology failure kind of thing that I’ve learned over the years and a, and a business failure. I think on the technology failure, it was a very long time ago when I was on the networking area. The, you know, the big two competing technologies was TCP IP and ISO OSI and, uh, you know, the OSI.
You know, so the model, the software, everything about it was, was technically, you know, very solid, but it was a little, it was overly complex. And the folks that did TCPI. Uh, some of whom I met over at bolt Beranek and Newman, many years later that, you know, it was all about simplicity. It was all about can people actually implement it and do the fast fail technologically.
And I, and I think that what I learned out of that was that TCP IP in many respects, succeeded because of its simplicity. That being said, we, years later, when I worked in the telecom industry with the especial over Newbridge networks, one of the things I noticed was the SS seven network that all everybody uses for making phone calls.
It’s what actually does the, the signaling in the background. It was all based on ISO OSI. So it, it, it may be the in fact, you know, that ISO OSI was a failure technically, but it turns out aspects of it where you were used, and it was a great success, but you have to be very selective in how you declare a success versus failure.
And then you can actually get a temporary failure. And if you’re very patient and you have the right software, it can be used somewhere else. So that’s why.
[00:21:44] Peter Perri: No, that’s absolutely true. And we, we in the business and financial world tended to find success based on money. So I’m curious in your mind, what are some areas of success that are, that are worth more than money that you try to focus?
[00:21:58] Lloyd Spencer: Well, certainly, um, in this instance here, this one is, uh, to me a much greater success, which is simply focusing on how we can clean up, uh, carbon out of the environment. It, it, um, I know it’s going to be a sustainable process, but, um, even if it was not for whatever reason it is in fact really important to our future.
So I think that it’s going to what we will see with all of these environmental or environmentally friendly. Uh, kind of technology’s coming up. Some will have major success financially. Others may have modest success financially, but they’re all very, very important to the survival or of our, of our children.
And in many generations thereafter, it’s that important?
[00:22:52] Peter Perri: That is an absolute fact. I appreciate that. And so speaking of kids, we do have a lot of younger professionals that watch the show. If you could go back and give your 18 year old self, a little bit of advice, I’ll put you on the spot, but I always think about this.
What would you tell your younger self that you’ve learned that would make your career either easier or better or more?
[00:23:16] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah, no, that’s a very good question. And I think the probably be, uh, having patience and persistence. Okay. When I was in my twenties, I was, uh, you know, I was offered the criticism of Lloyd you’re too impatient, be more patient and they were right.
So I can go back, you know, and say, you know, Calm down, just be patient focused on, you know, not so much where you’ve been or, or where you want to go, but where you are and, and go set a, a milestone for where you want to be save thought 10 years and yeah. Don’t and don’t panic, just, um, be patient and go focus on, uh, having a series of goals.
And you cannot, it’s like, uh, stepping stones, stepping stones across, you know, a, um, across the water, if you will. And, uh, and even if you fall in, you get back up on the stone you’re at and you reevaluate and you go back, uh, and that, that would be my. It was to my eight-year-old self. Yeah.
[00:24:27] Peter Perri: I think, I think that’s amazing advice.
And PA patients is a tough one. I started a couple of companies, people ask me, how long does it take? And I tell them it’s five years minimum, really, to, to really get to where you feel comfortable. And I also compare it to pushing a Boulder up a hill because you’re pushing that Boulder and you just got to keep going and you just don’t know where the top of the hill is.
If you stop, the Boulder might run you over. So you just keep it pushing it up there. And then all of a sudden we’ll get there and just fly down and things will go a lot easier for you. So.
[00:25:01] Lloyd Spencer: If there’s one thing I have learned from a few folks who were in there when I was in my forties and they were in their sixties.
The one thing it’s very hard to really grasp at first, which is don’t regret the mistakes you made. Don’t don’t dwell on. Too much learn from them. And don’t repeat that mistake over again, especially the ones that are really kind of painful financially or whatever. Uh, but at least learn from it and then don’t repeat it.
But then, you know, look for is what you have to do. And the other part of persistence is that it’s knowing approximately where you want to be. There. There, there is no ultimate destination, if you will, because you, for example, if anybody had told me when I was at sun Microsystems and I, and I was talking with one of the legal counsel on about, uh, there was a contract, you needed someone to review.
And I, and I mentioned something about. Uh, you know, G what’s the consideration that’s being given in this case. And he said, where did you learn that? And I said, I learned my business law class, you know, they said, well, I have some other contracts you might want to, I might want to have you work on. So it’s that kind of thing where you, you, um, you go ahead and you, you, you take the key learnings.
You had, you use those moving forward and you just. Uh, enjoy the, enjoy the trip as much as, uh, getting to the destination, because there are many destinations along the way, as it turns out, I never would have dreamed of. I never would have dreamed of, uh, you know, working in this kind of area. Exactly. But I’m very glad that I had the, uh, the knowledge and the background to be able to, uh, to be able to meet with people and to be able to evaluate this as a positive.
[00:26:48] Peter Perri: No, that’s that’s super cool. And you mentioned sun Microsystems. I hadn’t heard that company name in a long time, but what a great company that was, I don’t want to put you on the spot, but you remember the CEO’s name of that company who was famous. Scott that’s right. And it was a, it was a tremendous company.
And a lot of people forget that is kind of the precursor of our modern, uh, internet technology that we use now. So it’s just client server. Um, and it was a high flying stock if I remember. So back in the day.
[00:27:18] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah, it was, it was, it was, uh, you know, that was one of the, uh, my favorite companies to work for.
Uh, Hewlett Packard was one that was truly a favor. I learned a lot of good engineering habits and that will be another. Uh, by the way, key learning of one-year near SIG early twenties is, um, w go work for a company at first where you can learn some good engineering habits. Uh, doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small, but you’re learning good engineering habits.
Those will serve you well. Or it’s in the financial. Good financial habits, but it’s good. Working skill habits is what you’re going to looking for. Cause those will serve you quite well. But there were a lot of things I learned at sun Microsystems. There’s amazing company. Some of the people I met through there were just, uh, you know, my, my story is when.
I was living in Grenoble, France at the time. Uh, and there was a group that needed to meet a, take a server. So it was, I need to take a server over to Austria to deliver it to a guy named Tim. And it turns out I, I vaguely remembered his last name, which was Tim Berners Lee. So no. Yes. Yeah. I dropped off the server.
I didn’t even know who, what he looked like. Right. So I went over to drop off the server and he says, oh, while you’re here, let me show you this cool thing. I’m working on top of this little workstation. It said www. So it was like, let me show you this thing, this worldwide web thing I’ve been working on.
And it was all. Time. And I did convey that message back to San saying, Hey, there’s this really amazing thing that’s being worked on. And it’s one of those things. It’s very hard to convey something that significant to people over the phone. Um, and I would say the folks at sun that I, that I called up there was like, That’s really cool, but it’s hard for them to really visualize.
It really took about six to eight months till people finally w when, uh, when the Mozilla browser met with the worldwide web backend, then it became much more obvious to people, but it’s that kind of, those kind of people I met at sun that I, uh, I missed them.
[00:29:29] Peter Perri: And it was pretty amazing. So here’s, here’s a question that, that makes me think of that is, so you’ve been around a lot of different fields, a lot of different experience.
What’s something that you really believe wholeheartedly that nobody really agrees with you about that you think is going to be shown to be the case.
[00:29:48] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah. So I guess I would say that, uh, it, I get asked this question a lot, which is, you know, You know, what, what do I think is going to happen with, you know, do, do we do, I think that we’re going to be able to solve our climate woes, that we have kind of, you know, that we’re now living with that as we speak.
And I guess the phrase that I use to be able to as well, look, it really took us about two You can even argue 300 years to kind of get here. It, it, it, um, really the, um, the industrial revolution in the 1800s really started the process. We just really ramped it up. I would say, starting with world war two, where the consumption of oil there, and then we even just took it even further.
So what’s, what’s also kind of, um, remarkable in this area is that the amount of carbon on the planet is very small. It really is the amount of plant. The amount of carbon on this planet is 0.03 of the planet. It’s tiny, but we’ve done a remarkably good job of scuffing it up, back into the atmosphere and into the water.
So yes, this has been a 200 year 300. year Journey. And it’s going to take us two to 300 years to get back out. Um, and we’ll will we solve it. I think we will solve this problem of carbon dioxide issues and methane, but it’s going to take a long time. Um, and along the way we will create other problems, but that’s okay.
We’ve, you know, society and humankind has been doing this for. Uh, many hundreds of thousands of years and, uh, you know, we will have our struggles and all that, and we will persist and it will be uncomfortable for, you know, various folks for sure. But we will persist, you know, we will, we’ll be around, we will solve this problem.
And I guarantee we will bump into new problems.
[00:31:49] Peter Perri: That’s absolutely true. So yeah, I would say that’s definitely longer than most people. But we can’t set the goals that far out or else nobody will get behind them. So we’ve got to say, you know, net zero by such and such a date.
[00:32:01] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah. And you focus on where you are.
So, uh, you know, uh, this company and many other companies will all, you know, solve these problems in their own unique way. And it’s going to be a collective effort, uh, millions of people, if not billions of people. So, and that I would say is probably one of the, uh, the most difficult parts of. When, as you are taking decisions on a daily basis, it’s very hard to assess.
Am I making it better or worse? You know? And so, you know, clearly if we are all moving towards, you know, electric vehicles, we’re making. Somewhat better. Are we causing other problems in the backend where the power is produced? Yes, perhaps we are, which is why others focused on that. So that’s why I say it’s going to be a collective effort over a couple hundred years.
And I think that we will eventually get there. I’m just hoping that in the next, you know, 20 years while you know, I’m still active in doing this, that I can make my small effort, just like everybody else to make it a little bit better. Yeah.
[00:33:10] Peter Perri: Sure we we’ve absolutely got to work together here because it’s just too big of a problem for any one company or persons, all of it on their own.
[00:33:18] Lloyd Spencer: And I, and I really do hope, you know, young people, they, it’s a, it’s very easy to get into the, uh, the feeling of, well, this is a hopeless exercise, uh, but it’s not true. Uh, so wherever you are. You have to, you, you, the phrase I use is wherever you are, that’s where you are and you have to make the best of where you are to make things a little better.
I think the opportunity for young people is, is remarkable in this area of, uh, making things better environmentally, and I think that they will do a much better job than our predecessors did because we were not entirely understanding the overall big picture. Now, I think because. The datasets are far better than they ever were in the past.
Now there’s even some artificial intelligence tools to help make some better guesses as to what the better choices could be. Um, that that’s an improvement right there. So I’m, I’m very, actually very hopeful that folks who are in their twenties, even late teens, uh, that they can start looking at careers that will actually make this a better.
[00:34:27] Peter Perri: Yeah, that’s that’s for sure. True. Um, and we are starting to get to the end of our time here, Lloyd, but what I’d love to hear if you’ve got any parting shots for the audience of anything I should have asked you that I didn’t cover, that you’d like to leave the audience with. And then I might hit you up for a couple other, uh, recommendations.
[00:34:46] Lloyd Spencer: Sure. Um, you know, I think you’ve done an excellent job here. I guess the key takeaways are that what we’re trying to do here is to be able to take, you know, a lot of the carbon waste that is in, you know, as, as we talked about, it could be plastics. It can be, you know, coal waste. It can be, uh, you know, waste from agriculture and to do something where we can help improve the environment, uh, to generate an alternative.
Energy source with hydrogen, that will be a much better alternative. Uh, cause I, I thoroughly see that the automotive industry, the rail industry and I, and I believe we will see the airline industry all move towards hydrogen. Uh, and that will be. Uh, an improvement. It may cause it may create other issues down the path, but it’s a definite improvement of where we are right now.
Um, so we’re, we’re trying to do our very best to make the good, make good choices. And some of the carbon we produce can be used in batteries as well. So I think we’re going to see, uh, you know, in the next say 20 to 50 years, it will be along the lines of more battery technology coupled with hydrogen and other similar technologies.
[00:36:02] Peter Perri: Uh, it’s really exciting. So of course we’re a podcast. I like to give a shout out to other content creators. Are there any other podcasts or books that you’ve read recently or that you listened to on a regular basis?
[00:36:14] Lloyd Spencer: Yeah, it’s funny. Uh, when you, when you brought up, uh, you know, some things about. Uh, anaerobic and break down things like that.
There’s, there’s a very, there’s not you ever read this book called entangled life and they talk about the, how, um, uh, you get, uh, trees, which are, you know, taking up carbon and, and, um, uh, producing, uh, taking carbon dioxide and producing carbon out of that. But it’s all tied in. Uh, the molds and the fungi and everything else in our world.
And that’s one of the things I, uh, I do some tutoring, uh, for high school students and college students. And that’s one of the things I try to convey to them, which is one of the ways that I see the world is doing a better job now is planting more trees. But I also, I’m trying to tell them. It’s more than just the trees it’s what’s under the trees.
That’s where the most interesting part is. And it’s a world of fungi, which are actually another major source of the carbon sink. So that’s, that’s my one, one book that I recommend as well. And, uh, uh, yeah, um, uh, Merlin Sheldrake is the author on that. It’s called entangled life.
[00:37:30] Peter Perri: And now that sounds amazing, Lloyd, thank you for that and the audience.
Thanks. You appreciate you coming on. And, uh, it’s, it’s incredible that you’re, you’re basically saving the planet from something that’s one of the worst things for it and turning it into something usable. So by getting all that plastic out of the ocean, I think that’s a huge win for the planet.
[00:37:51] Lloyd Spencer: I think taking the carbon out of the year, taking carbon out of the waterways and then putting it down deep somewhere where it won’t we’re we’re uh, we’re we’re nature originally put it, um, that it’s a step in the right room.
[00:38:05] Peter Perri: No. Fantastic. So excited Lloyd, thank you for being on this energy superheroes with Peter Perri, we’ve had Lloyd Spencer and he is taking plastic out of the oceans with a unique and novel process that is turning that plastic into something usable. So thanks for being on
[00:38:22] Lloyd Spencer: today, Lloyd.
All Podcast Episodes
Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Iwatani Corporation of America
Common Good Mining
Tata Consultancy Services