Former Energy Secretary Chu Joins Board of Canadian Startup

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WASHINGTON — A Canadian company with a radically different approach to capturing carbon pollution from power plants has won an influential endorsement from Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and a former secretary of energy, who is joining the company’s board.

The company, Svante Inc. (Formerly Inventys Thermal Technologies), based in Vancouver, British Columbia, will announce Dr. Chu’s appointment on Wednesday. Svante has been working in a crucial area that has been mostly neglected: capturing carbon dioxide from natural gas.

The carbon dioxide is valuable in oil fields, and Svante’s technology could also help limit climate change. Natural gas releases only about half as much carbon dioxide as coal per unit of electricity produced. But even that amount is triple what would be required to meet President Obama’s goal of cutting carbon output by 80 percent by midcentury.

Dr. Chu said in a telephone interview that the chemical process for carbon capture that has been most widely tested, called amine chemistry, was so expensive that “we need better ideas.”


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“It is empowering to know, given my Alberta heritage, our technology can change the climate impacts of the Alberta oil sands regions and generate significant additional economic benefits.”

Brett Henkel

Co-Founder and Vice President Strategic Accounts & Government Affairs

Brett Henkel’s unabashed optimism tempered by his mechanical engineering background and gas separation experience combine to bring a rare perspective to his position on Svante’s executive team.

Transferring the company’s breakthrough CO2 capture technology to customers’ sites will rely heavily on Brett’s strengths for identifying and understanding the technical and business details and relating those details to partners’ teams, approving agencies, and stakeholders.

As co-founder, he was instrumental in creating the process and the hardware used to prove the technology’s effectiveness as well as mobilizing external support throughout the path to becoming a successful innovation. These experiences strengthened his knowledge of business development and program management priorities.

Prior to launching Svante, Mr. Henkel was the program manager for QuestAir Technologies’ compact hydrogen production system with its partner, ExxonMobil. He is credited with designing the world’s first solenoid-driven rapid pressure swing adsorption test station.

Brett received his Bachelor of Science in Physics, with distinction, and a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Victoria.

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