We’ve been excitedly following Charm Industrial’s progress for the last few years. Ever since they were a part of the first cohort of Stripe Climate’s catalytic program back in the weird times of 2020.
We’re thrilled and delighted to be including them in our Carbon Removal Portfolio.
Type: Bio-oil + Storage
Permanence of carbon removal: 10,000+ years
Based in the USA, Charm Industrial uses fast pyrolysis to heat biomass - such as corn stover agricultural waste or forestry trimmings - to produce a sticky oil-like substance.
It’s high in carbon but low in energy density, meaning there’s no point in burning the bio-oil as fuel. By tweaking their process - how quickly they heat it all up - it’s possible to fine-tune the result to get more or less char, gas or the oil.
They then take that bio-oil and inject it deep underground, in EPA-regulated injection wells, where it sinks and solidifies. Effectively, Charm’s bio-oil is stable underground on geologic timeframes, meaning the carbon is removed potentially for hundreds of thousands or more years. It’s not going anywhere, and can’t contribute to climate change.
It’s about as permanent and additional a carbon removal solution as we’re likely to see. Yes, we’re fans!
Charm’s founders independently developed an interest in preventing climate change.
Way back in 2015, Peter Reinhardt, Charm's CEO, looked into offsetting his previous company's emissions using rainforest protection projects in Indonesia. When he looked deeper it became clear that this wasn't an effective strategy and the projects weren't having the impact they'd hoped for.
In 2017 Peter, and co-founder Kevin Meissner, began working together to find a profitable way to sequester carbon permanently. What started as a “char farm” (charm, get it?) evolved into a concept to turn agricultural residues into renewable industrial hydrogen via fast pyrolysis. In 2018, Charm Industrial was born.
In 2020 their former Chief Scientist and co-founder, Shaun Meehan, had two breakthroughs. First, converting agricultural residues into a bio-oil intermediate made the concept dramatically more economical and second, pumping bio-oil underground was a compelling and cost-competitive way to remove carbon from the atmosphere. They were off to the races.
Within 10 months, they’d completed their first carbon removal injection and in 2021, have delivered more than 5,000 tons of 1000+ year carbon removal for customers like Stripe, Shopify and Microsoft. According to cdr.fyi they are the leader in 1000+ year removals.
The company employs over 50 people in the USA.
With a high net carbon negativity and long storage permanence, turning waste biomass into bio-oil has a role to play in solving climate change.
Charm's container-based mobile pyrolysis unit goes to where the waste is, minimizing transport related emissions during operations.
Using fast pyrolysis they turn biomass into a sticky oil-like substance. It’s high in carbon but low in energy density, meaning there’s no point in burning it as fuel.
It's then injected deep underground, in EPA-regulated injection wells, where it sinks and solidifies. It's locked away for millennia.
They’re one of the leading providers of tonnes of carbon removal delivered so far. Since they started operations they’ve permanently pumped about 6000 tonnes of CO2e underground.
The USA, India, and Brazil alone are estimated to produce roughly 1.5 billion tonnes of waste biomass per year that Charm can potentially utilize for carbon removal.
At scale, the bio-oil they produce can be used to make carbon negative iron. Iron accounts for 6% of global emissions and Charm could swing this entire amount negative.
We can’t wait to see what comes next for them!
To achieve Net Zero (& beyond) we need to grow global carbon removal capacity to somewhere between 5 to 10 gigatonnes per year by 2050.
Bio-oil produced purely from agricultural waste - there’s a huge amount of it around the world - has a high level of readiness to scale-up to millions of tonnes that can grow as quickly as we want it to.
Combining that with geologic storage underground is a highly additional solution that takes planet-heating carbon directly from the atmosphere - captured when plants grow - and locks it away in a safe and stable place.
Zopeful's Carbon Removal Portfolios primarily look at solutions that are as-permanent-as-possible-for-the-$, combined with additionality and verifiability. As you may know from our climate courses, we're very conscious of climate justice issues as well. There can be no full transition to a zero emissions world that isn't just. We're including carbon removal partners in the portfolios that engage and include local communities in the locations they operate in.
As Charm scale-up their operations they're aiming to bring incredible benefits to communities and ecosystems, including improving soil health, supporting the farming communities they work in with extra income and jobs, taming wildfire risk by taking away excess woody biomass that may have combusted, and improving air quality.
Wildfires have a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged rural communities, and improving wildfire management has the potential to prevent loss of property and loss of life in those areas. By reducing forest fuel load, Charm’s solution will have a significant impact on air quality by helping to reduce the excess biomass that is one of the key contributors to wildfires.
Across the US, there are hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells that leak toxic chemicals into the air, contaminate groundwater, and emit methane, harming the climate. Charm can address leaking oil wells, and other orphaned wells, by using them for bio-oil injection and then permanently capping them to improve community health while permanently storing carbon underground.
I'm at a point in my life where I want to work on something I actually like doing. My skills are in high demand. I'm energized to be in the climate space and be part of a growing company with the ability to wear many hats.
Pyrolyzer Operator, Charm Industrial Inc
Slowing and reversing climate change not only requires us to reduce emissions from the current levels, we also need to take out hundreds of billions of tonnes we’ve already added to the atmosphere over the last 200 years. Making better use of waste materials makes perfect sense in this fight.
We love Charm's approach of getting the absolute most carbon removal value out of what many would consider waste. They’re sequestering carbon effectively forever, all from biomass farm waste that would have otherwise been left to rot or burnt, releasing CO₂ back into the atmosphere where it would have contributed to climate change.
Charm is doing inspiring work in making this a reality and we can’t wait to see what they do next as they continue to research, deploy and scale their solutions to millions of tonnes per year and beyond!
That, and their company values never fail to make us smile (and feel inspired):
- First, do no harm - We are here to serve the Earth and all of its inhabitants
- Gigatons or bust - In order to solve the climate crisis, Charm must deliver at a massive scale
- Solve the Right Problem - We heat seek toward the problems with the biggest impact
- Weird and Full of Wonder - Never lose a sense of child-like awe and curiosity for the unknown
Read more about Bio-oil and why we include it in our Carbon Removal Portfolio 👇
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