A Podcast Interview with Traver Kennedy on Accelerating Hydrogen Energy Solutions
This week we present highlights from a podcast interview that Joi Scientific’s CEO Traver Kennedy gave to Earthself.org a few weeks ago on Sustainable: The Podcast, which features leaders and organizations that are helping to create a sustainable world.
In this interview, Traver provides unique insights into what inspired he and Joi Scientific President Robert Koeneman to start a company around what they learned by watching the ocean as it absorbs energy naturally. In the conversational, storytelling style that characterizes our CEO, Traver seamlessly moves from the economic reasons for a hydrogen economy, to the defining aspects of Hydrogen 2.0, to his days helping Citrix pioneer cloud computing, to the people he admires. This is a lively interview that encapsulates who we are and our culture of change.
Hit the play button to listen to the interview:
The Hydrogen Economy is here
The Hydrogen Economy is finally underway, gaining momentum every day as new technology and business models continue to make hydrogen more competitive and an increasingly obvious energy choice across a multitude of industries. We see growing evidence of hydrogen applications that touch our daily lives everywhere. Hydrogen powers buses and cars that move people around the world every day. Even trains and airplanes are rapidly adapting to the new hydrogen reality, as we have written on this blog.
However, clean energy from hydrogen as well as that from other sustainable sources, like solar and wind, is in a race against time. To drive this point home, Traver refers to the “75% Problem,” which Bill Gates wrote about in an influential open letter last year. The 75% Problem is the realization that we need to work on new technologies to enable clean energy solutions for the 75% of greenhouse gas emissions that result from the way we live our lives―and which are not on the pathway to being solved readily. As Bill Gates put it, “to stop the planet from getting substantially warmer, we need breakthroughs in how we make things, grow food, and move people and goods—not just how we power our homes and cars.” (Read our post on the 75% Problem here).
Traver goes on to discuss how clean and affordable hydrogen can tackle several of the 75% Problem areas. One example is the use of hydrogen to ease the transition from a carbon-based economy to a carbon-neutral economy. By making carbon-neutral jet fuel, diesel, gasoline, and natural gas that can be used in our existing global infrastructure, currently deployed equipment and sunk costs can live out their useful life―without putting new carbons into the environment. He also shares examples of moving to a carbon-free economy by burning green hydrogen in burners for manufacturing everything from steel to glass.
Inspiration from the Ocean
Traver and Rob, together with co-founder Jim Kirchoff and the Joi Scientific team, began their work on hydrogen through the inspiration they found in the ocean. The goal was to find an energy solution that came without the expensive tradeoffs that fossil fuels impose on the planet and people’s health.
In the podcast, Traver shares how he and Rob approached the problem in a similar manner as other scientists like Einstein did by looking to nature and asking: what is there in nature that nobody else is seeing? More specifically, they looked to how the ocean stores and releases energy from the hydrogen within water molecules naturally. He explains, “we saw something nobody had seen before, and have been working on a way to replicate it in the lab, refining it, and getting patents to bring it to the world.” The result is Hydrogen 2.0, which allows people to “take water where you are and where you need energy and transform it into hydrogen gas on-demand.”
For Traver, the main driver of his work at Joi Scientific is to enable energy independence for all by localizing the production of clean and affordable hydrogen at the point of use, using practically any source of water near to where people live. For one of the early architects of cloud computing, who was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, energy independence presented the same kind of challenge: “there must be a better way if we look where others don’t.”
The Challenge Ahead
A realist when it comes to the kind of obstacles Joi Scientific now faces, Traver explains that “our current challenges lie around execution” as well as educating people on how clean hydrogen can be produced from water, both in the developed and the developing world.
For Joi Scientific, collaboration is key: “We face the fact that we have a great challenge in front of us. We have a big job we have to do, and we accomplish it by finding the strength of partners and collaborating with them.” He further notes that “creating a community of partners around an enabling technology is what made the world of computing possible.”
Tenacity, Daring, and a Bit of Luck
Traver is the kind of person that can’t do an interview without showing his human side and teaching us some life lesson, no matter what he’s talking about. For him, an entrepreneur needs three elements to succeed: “If you’re tenacious enough, willing to put your life’s work on the line, and are a bit lucky,” he says, almost anything can be accomplished.
Together with the Joi Scientific team, Traver is on a mission to make a positive impact by bringing Hydrogen 2.0 technology to people everywhere, giving them the means to generate energy locally for greater independence, so they can “become self-reliant, take control and be environmentally responsible.”
“Sometimes I feel like Forrest Gump,” says Traver. A musician by training who somehow finds himself in the right place, at the right time, surrounded by amazing people, is working hard to make our daily lives better…for the second time.
Don’t miss this interesting podcast!
As the Hydrogen 2.0 ecosystem gains momentum, we’ll be sharing our views and insights on the new Hydrogen 2.0 Economy. We also update our blog every week with insightful and current knowledge in this growing energy field.