The Broad Spectrum of Clean Tech Solutions

Tuesday morning the PortTech Forum featured presentations by companies addressing two environmental challenges in unique ways.  Total Transportation Services, Inc. and their partner Vision Motors introduced their zero greenhouse gas (CO, CO2, NOx) emission Class 8 truck. It is not a Zero Emission Vehicle technically, as the H2 used in the fuel cells that power a Siemens electric motor produce water as a byproduct of combustion.    A solution commensurate to the problem – a complex, local and hugely expensive problem requiring sophisticated, local expensive technology to reduce environmental impacts of our trade dependent economic activities.

At the other end of the spectrum is the work of Global Eco Soil Solutions,  inventor of  the EarthMister – a subsurface aerating and irrigating system that addresses a mundane though significant issue of conserving water and improving yields or production in orchards, crops, lawns and commercial properties.  By burying the water delivery system and using pressure to aerate and dispense water closer to the root system results in healthier, more abundant foliage – grasses, plants and trees.

This might seem trivial in comparison to reducing the emission of GHGs , but access, conservation and wise use of resources is vitally important.   In California, we are seeing what has happened with water.  A resource that was once cheap and abundant has become precious and scarce because it can’t serve all of our competing needs – environmental, social and economic. 

Among the reasons that working with clean tech entrepreneurs and start-ups is exciting and interesting is the sheer numbers and types of problems to be solved.  Generally we see that the magnitude of the problem requires an equivalent scale of solution – i.e., expensive problems require costly solutions and complex problems are solved with elaborate contraptions.  The scale of the solution often reflects the nature of the problem.  None of this should be surprising.  What is brought into stark relief by today’s event was the range of problems and variety of solutions.  It is sometimes easy to get caught up in the huge and audacious like a the H2 powered Class 8 near zero emission vehicle that TTSI brought to the event.  It is good to be reminded that we also have issues that only require the simple and effective like placing water and air jets underground.  A great space for finding opportunities for start-up success with invention at one end of the spectrum, conservation at the other.