Seminar: Brent Constantz

Brent Constantz
Associate Professor, Stanford University
CEO, DeepWater Desal, LLC


Adaptive Utilization of Carbon Dioxide

January 30, 2012 | 4:00pm | ESB 2001 

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World Governments cannot sustainably fund uneconomical schemes of incentives and global projects aimed at slowing the acceleration of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Not even at maximal implementation would wind, solar, tidal energy, low emission vehicles, carbon capture and sequestration, and further emission controls on carbon-based electrical power generation and industrial plants have a significant near-term impact. Even if developed countries paid developing countries $100 per ton of carbon dioxide not emitted, the developing countries would be paying over one trillion dollars per year before even addressing their own emissions. Government funding of grand geoengineering schemes to reduce the sunlight reaching Earth’s surface do nothing to address ocean acidification from high levels of accumulating carbon dioxide and would cost trillions to implement, so are not workable.  Mankind’s largest addition to Earth over the last millennia has been the built environment we’ve created: roads, bridges, buildings, tunnels, causeways, dams, buildings, pyramids, sea walls, and canals. Over the last century, the materials used to make these structures have transitioned from mainly stone and early lime cement to concrete and steel. Many efforts are underway to reutilize anthropogenic carbon dioxide, making valuable products like cement and aggregate and specialty chemicals. While there are many economic benefits to small volume applications like specialty chemicals, in order to impactfully implement global carbon dioxide levels, carbon consumption by reutilization will need to count in the billions of tons of carbon dioxide per year. The built environment today, with 12 billion tons of concrete produced every year and over 30 billion tons of stone aggregate mined every year, appear to be the only target carbon sinks that have the sustainable volume needed to permanently sequester billions of tons of carbon dioxide per year in an economically sustainable manner. 


Brent Constantz is trained in geological sciences and aquatic biology, and specializes in biomineralization and its application in medicine and climate change. He invented high performance novel cements and is the inventor on over 80 issued U.S. patents. His cements for bone fractures can be found in most operating rooms in the western world that perform orthopedic surgery. Dr. Constantz is a Consulting Professor at Stanford University, and has taught courses in biomineralization, carbonate sedimentology, mineralization of bone, Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses in the use of cement in bone fracture management, and given numerous seminars. He served on the Advisory Board of the Stanford Environmental Molecular Science Institute aimed at using synchrotron radiation for material characterization, and is affiliated with the Woods Institute for the Environment, where his interest is carbon dioxide sequestration in concrete and the built environment. The marine science community in the Monterey Bay Region has honored his contributions to the marine environment with the Global Ocean Hero Award in 1999. He received BA, MS, and Ph.D. degrees at the University of California, was a post doc at the USGS, and a Fulbright Scholar at the Weizmann Institute before launching his first of three successful medical device companies.  Most recently he was the Chief Executive Officer of Calera Corporation, a company that sequesters carbon dioxide from power plant emissions into cementitious materials and synthetic limestone, both removing the emitted carbon dioxide and displacing the carbon dioxide that Portland cement production would have generated. Currently, he is Managing Partner & Chief Executive Officer of DeepWater Desal LLC, a company building a desalination plant on Monterey Bay that draws its source water from the Monterey submarine canyon to avoid entrainment and impingement of larvae.

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