Powered by Optimism: The Air Company
Welcome to Powered by Optimism, a new segment in which we bring forward sustainably innovative and purpose-driven companies and people making a difference.
In this chapter, we're spotlighting Air Company, a powerful brooklyn-based engineering firm taking one of the earth's biggest pollutants and transforming it into impurity-free alcohols. You may have seen their award-winning vodka on the market, but there is much more to discover.
Where It All Started
Air Company came to be when Dr.Stafford Sheehan, now co-founder and CTO, and Gregory Constatine, now co-founder and CEO, met. A scientist and entrepreneur who is recognized for his research on artificial photosynthesis and carbon dioxide conversion, Dr. Sheehan and entrepreneur Constatine put their heads together.
“The perfect time to start this company would have been many years ago. The climate catastrophe is something that’s happened for decades,” said Constantine in an interview with TechCrunch+. “I hope that what we’re doing now can inspire others to go out and try to incite change as well and use technological solutions like ours to help try to reverse climate change.”
During the pandemic, Dr. Sheehan and Constantine came out with a hand sanitizer donated to people across America. Funded by Carbon Direct Capital Management, Parley for the Oceans, Toyota Ventures, and JetBlue Technology Ventures, Air Company has raised over $40 million to date.
With this funding, they have been able to meet the demands of consumers for all their products, including an award-winning vodka, hand sanitizer, and eau de parfum while also entering the industrial sectors.
Air Company’s Groundbreaking Process
The process begins when CO2 is captured from their partners in traditional fermentation and industrial alcohol plants before it is released into the atmosphere.After being cooled, pressurized, and liquified, the CO2 is transported in tanks to their Brookly facility. The innovative process then electrolyzes water, dividing it into hydrogen and oxygen.
From there, the oxygen is released back into the atmosphere and the hydrogen as well as captured CO2 is processed through a Carbon Conversion Reactor. The hydrogen and CO2 meet and are converted into impurity-free alcohols that Air Company can then use to produce products like vodka, hand sanitizer, and a beloved fragrance.
Currently, Air Company keeps its volume of products low to limit transportation - one of the biggest source of carbon emissions. The company plans to keep it this way until they have reached a mass scale as they want to limit the amount of transportation.
All this is done in their own facilities, which runs on renewable power, from conversion to production. The moves Air Company makes is based on their overarching goals and values for society.
Using its patented AirmadeTM technology, Air Company transforms CO2 into sustainable alcohols and fuels. This new technology recreates the process of photosynthesis to create clean and sustainable resources with only oxygen as a byproduct.
The alcohols are used to produce a carbon-negative fragrance, a hand sanitizer, and impurity-free vodka. While the fuel is sold as Ethanol and Methanol.
Each product is as pure as it gets, Air Vodka is made of only two ingredients, CO2 and water. And for every bottle produced, they are removing a pound of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Are the products any good? Air Company won gold in the 2019 Ultra Premium vodka category, a blind taste test held annually by the Spirits Business magazine. The Eau de Parfum has also performed well amongst the crowd as it ranked in Bustle’s 5 best fragrances of 2022, alongside Gucci and Fenty.
The Air Company Mission
The team at Air Company is driven to create sustainable change via innovative technology and eco-friendly products.
As Constantine explained in an interview with Times, their goal is to “extend human life on this planet by directly reversing carbon levels in our air through the integration of our carbon conversion technology into every applicable sector.” By providing consumers with products created from captured carbon and collaborating and integrating their technology with other businesses in their industry, Air Company is making this possible.
“We believe in solving problems—the harder the better. We know that the best solutions aren’t always the most obvious, but smart executions of the right science can literally change the world. So, we tackled the planet’s most vexing problem and turned a negative to a positive: we invented a way to take excess carbon from the air and turn it into ultra-refined alcohol. Our company uses modern technology to create the world’s most carbon-negative products, disrupting every category we enter, starting with spirits.” The Air Company team, xprize submission
What’s Next For Air Company?
From luxuries to everyday needs, Air Company has one goal in mind; to make a mark in the industry through a commitment to global decarbonization. It's taking these steps to help accelerate the creation of a greener future and society.
Now funded by the NASA Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award, Air Company is moving on to new heights. This new funding is helping them move closer to a carbon-negative rocket fuel for space applications on Earth, Mars, and further.
In an interview with SpaceRef, Constantine explained that “with this announcement, we want to show that at a time when there are more rockets launching into space than ever before, there are sustainable production methods that are able to fuel these rockets and help our planet at the same time by removing abundant greenhouse gasses.”
Recently tested by the U.S. Air Force, Air Company’s aviation fuel could help the airline industry's goal of hitting net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Even more, the company is now backed up by JetBlue, which is committed to purchasing millions of gallons of carbon-neutral SAF.
Small Businesses, Big Differences
Our mission of emphasizing other sustainably innovative brands, like Air Company, is to highlight how innovation and disruption of old industry standards can make a significant impact towards the progression of a greener future. As a society, if we work together to create and support a sustainable world, you will be amazed by the difference we can make.
At Solios, we wanted to bring innovation to an industry that hadn’t changed in decades. We brought solar to the wrist of consumers in the most sustainable way possible. We want people to wear a sustainable statement, because the watch acts as a constant reminder of sustainability. It’s a reminder of making better choices, sharing values, and showing one’s true self. Every time a timepiece is bought, it is one more step toward the bigger and greener picture.
As a consumer, it is in our power to lift small brands that are making a difference. So, the next time you're in the market for a new fragrance or need a new watch, think about how that purchase affects the environment, society, and your future.
Businesses like Air Company are making it easier and easier to support innovation that has the environment in mind but also aligns with your lifestyle. And we can’t wait to discover more sustainably innovative brands making a difference (so stay tuned!).