In this episode of Hardware to Save a Planet, Dylan is joined by Daniel Betts, CEO and Founder of Blue Frontier, to discuss the revolutionary and energy-efficient air conditioning technology Blue Frontier is developing to tackle environmental issues.

Daniel is an engineer with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and has worked in the energy technology space for twenty-five years. He is driven as much by improving human health and equity as he is by fighting climate change.

Daniel and his company, Blue Frontier, are revolutionizing air conditioning through an ultra-efficient air conditioner that integrates low-cost energy storage. The result is an air conditioner that consumes electricity independent of providing cooling. Also, the AC can be programmed to consume electricity only when the grid is cleanest or only producing renewable energy.

An introductory paragraph about the discussed subject: 

  • With the recent massive heat waves all around the world, it is becoming clear that air conditioning has become a necessary part of life for many people. It is not just about comfort but also about saving lives in many cases. Though it keeps us cool when it’s hot outside, AC is also a major contributor to global warming. Cooling our buildings uses 10% of total energy globally. It is the fastest growing use of electricity around the world. Recently, the international energy agency called this one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate. Daniel Betts and his company, Blue Frontier, tackle the environmental problems of air conditioning with their game-changing technology.

A Call to Action

If you want to discover more about Blue Frontier’s game-changing AC technology, check the key takeaways of this episode or the transcript below.

Key highlights

  • 04:49 – 10:30 – The importance of air conditioning – Air conditioning access is vital for human development in the society we live in today, and it is a principal determinant of productivity and health outcomes. AC also allows us to safeguard assets we own, protecting them from environmental changes. Access to air conditioning has been linked to our capacity to maintain high cognitive levels as we work during the day, and it is essential to living comfortable lives. However, air conditioning is simultaneously a climate change contributor, affecting our capacity to create renewable energy.
  • 10:30 – 13:55 – Thinking about energy use – The infrastructure is not growing at the same speed as the demand for air conditioning is. Energy use is becoming a problem, putting the robustness of the electric service at risk and increasing the price of electrical energy.
  • 13:55 – 22:11 – Blue Frontier’s solution – Blue Frontier uses three times more efficient technology than conventional air conditioning. In actual implementation, that’s a sixty to ninety percent reduction. The technology also has energy storage, allowing the use of electricity when renewable energy is abundant but not when air conditioning loads are high. Blue Frontier also dramatically eliminates the use of refrigerants and enables the use of very low GWP refrigerants. Furthermore, it controls humidity and temperature independent of each other.
  • 25:49 – 34:49 – Blue Frontier’s business model – The main focus for Blue Frontier is commercial buildings, as these are dominated by a more energy-inefficient and polluting type of air conditioner. So the company started a new business model called HVAC as a Service, offering its units at front cost and transforming it into a subscription-based system where the subscription cost is less than the utility costs bill that the tenant already had.


Dylan Garrett: Hardware to Save a Planet explores the technical innovations that are giving us hope in the fight against climate change. Each episode focuses on a specific climate challenge, and explores an emerging physical technology solution with the person bringing it into reality. I’m your host, Dylan Garrett.

Hello, and welcome to Hardware to Save a Planet. We have a very timely guest today, as we’ve been seeing massive heat waves roll through Europe and the US over the past few weeks, and people are really cranking up the AC. It’s becoming really clear that air conditioning has become a necessary part of life for more and more people. It’s not just about comfort, but it’s about saving lives in many cases. It’s also part of this vicious cycle because while it keeps us cool when it’s hot outside, it’s also a major contributor to global warming. Cooling our buildings uses 10% of total energy globally, it’s the fastest growing use of electricity around the world.

Recently, the International Energy Agency called this one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate. Daniel Betts, and his company Blue Frontier, are tackling a lot of the environmental problems with air conditioning head-on with a really game-changing technology. To introduce Daniel, quickly, he’s the CEO and founder of Blue Frontier. He is an engineer with a PhD in mechanical engineering. He’s been working in the energy technology space for 25 years. I’ve learned in getting to know him that he has driven as much by improving human health and equity as he is, by fighting climate change.

I just want to say I think that’s a really good mentality for all of us to have, as the two are so closely linked. Welcome, Daniel. Thank you very much for being on the show.

Daniel Betts: Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s an incredible pleasure.

Dylan: I just heard that there’s some exciting news to share about Blue Frontier. Let’s start with that before we get into the rest of the stuff.

Daniel: We just closed our series A funding round. We had an equity funding round. It was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, VoLo Earth Ventures, and 2150. Also, we were within the investment group, Modern Niagara. We’re really excited. It gives us the capacity to move at a much faster rate, and also to bring products to market. Our internal logo is, we say, “We must do this before it’s too late,” we always say before it’s too late. This will allow us to really deliver on the promise of the extraordinary technology that we have the responsibility to usher to the world.

Dylan: That’s so awesome. Congratulations to you and the team. I’m really happy to hear that. It’s a nice positive backdrop for the conversation today.

Daniel: Thanks.

Dylan: Maybe, before we get into the details of Blue Frontier, I’d love to just hear a little bit about your background and your inspirations, what brought you to working on climate change.

I believe in the fact that I’ve been able to receive education and opportunities in my life that have gotten me to the point where I can come up with solutions to serious problems. And there’s no bigger problem than combating climate change.

— Daniel Betts

Daniel: I have kids, and I love this planet, and it’s our only one. I’m a nature lover, and I believe deeply in the fact that I’ve been able to receive education and opportunities in my life that have gotten me to the point where I can come up with solutions to serious problems. Therefore, it’s my responsibility to come up with solutions to serious problems, and there’s no bigger problem than combating climate change. In my mind, I have been working towards trying to figure out what are the biggest problems, the most difficult problems, and trying to figure out whether I can provide value to finding a solution, and that has led to Blue Frontier and the work that we’re doing now.

As a matter of background, again, I was born in Panama, and I grew up in Panama. I’m Panamanian by birth, and I grew up with a sense of understanding that the development of the world, of the nations of the world, requires access to energy, and access to energy that is low-cost and uncomplicated. Also, it requires access to the infrastructures that provide productivity and health and welfare. Air conditioning is right at the intersection of all those things, so it is a natural place for me to go. Also, now I live in South Florida, where we think about air conditioning a lot. We are working in this field. It’s a natural thing for us, I guess.

Dylan: Yes, I was wondering about that, if Blue Frontier was placed in Alaska or something, you think it’d be a little bit harder to motivate the team on a daily basis?

Daniel: Absolutely. In fact, I would say that civilization in this area of the country is dependent on air conditioning, and that’s something that is happening across the world as we grow our cities and our infrastructure, and the temperatures increase. As you said earlier, air conditioning is moving from something that just provides comfort to something that is indispensable.

Dylan: Why is it so important for life as it is today around the world?

Daniel: Without just talking about the fact that the world is warming, air conditioning already is a principal determinant of productivity and health outcomes. Access to air-conditioned spaces allows us also to safeguard assets that we own because they’re not subject to environmental changes that destroy them. Also, access to air conditioning has been linked to our capacity to have high levels of cognitive abilities as we work during the day. It’s very difficult to work in something when you’re truly uncomfortable, and your body is spending energy and effort trying to respond to these environments that are difficult to work in.

Air conditioning access actually, is important for human development in the society or in the world that we live in today. Just recently, there was a Lancet study with a journal publication, or a journal publisher for medical things, and they published heat and health, where they linked and they provided a clear link between air conditioning and the capacity of people to live long lives, comfortable lives, and overall longevity. Also, the related death is the number one environmental reason, people die. In the United States already, the weather-related events associated with heat caused more deaths than any other weather-related event.

Air conditioning, even in this country, is essential for us to again, live nice, comfortable lives. Now, global climate change is creating extreme temperatures, and it’s also increasing the temperatures in our cities in the summer, creating events that are extreme weather events, mostly on the heat side, which requires air conditioning. Right now, we’re seeing things that we’re breaking records on top temperatures. It’s actually creating deaths, it’s limiting people’s capacity to cope with heat. It also has another sinister side to the electric utility and our capacity to create renewable energy, in that when everybody turns on their air conditioners at the same time, it creates a peak demand for electricity.

That demand is very difficult to fulfill with the infrastructures we have available to us, in particular, renewable energy infrastructure. You see situations where, as the weather becomes hotter, electricity prices increase, the reliability of electricity drops, we throw away all the plans for renewable energy out the window, because we need to be able to fulfill those peak demands, so solar and wind are variable production capabilities. The peak demand, unfortunately, for air conditioning tends to occur, we call it a post-solar peak demand, which is happening in the early afternoon to late afternoon when solar power is waning.

It falls in between solar and wind power, which tends to come in earnest at night. The only way to cover it is with burning fossil fuels, or by installing a very large amount of batteries, and those are major issues because this is occurring only in a very short period of time. In some places, it’s seasonally concentrated also, the investment in assets to cover air conditioning demand, this peak of air conditioning demand has a very, very low return investment. It’s investment that is critical, but the asset utilization, which means how many times you need this asset to run, is very low because it’s occurring during those very harsh peak events that will occur for you to be able to keep the lights on.

It just makes the price of electricity go higher, it makes the comfort of people, makes the capacity for us to put renewable energy and the decarbonization and install renewable energy at a cost-effective manner, makes it much higher, makes this investment much higher for infrastructure. Once again, it’s indispensable, not to mention the fact that air conditioning actually uses a refrigerant that is more than 2,000 times more powerful. Greenhouse gas is a more powerful gas than CO2, which means that it has an outsize effect of exacerbating global climate change.

Air conditioning is an interesting problem because it’s the medicine that we need in order to live comfortably and healthy lives and productive lives, but at the same time, in particular, as the temperatures increase, it is the thing that stands in the way for us to prevent these temperatures from increasing. Medicine is also a disease. There’s a feedback loop between the two that exacerbate each other’s problem.

Dylan: Truly, a–

Daniel: Our goal is to completely eliminate the problem.

Dylan: Yes, it’s truly a necessary evil. I was laughing at myself this morning. It’s like the perfect technology for an evil genius. The more you use it, the more you need it.

Daniel: Absolutely. Well, like cigarettes and nicotine are things that they themselves create the demand for themselves.

Dylan: Right.

Daniel: In fact, it is the fastest growing appliance business in the world. It’s the fastest growing use of electricity, but also from a building equipment standpoint, it is also the fastest growing market. It offers an opportunity for a replacement of the existing hundreds years old technology for something that really does not create, solves all those problems. In the end it could also work better than what we have right now in terms of the technology and that’s what we’re focusing on.

Dylan: Yes. What about total energy use? Is that a way to think about it or is that not really so much of the problem? It’s more about when the energy is used?

Daniel: When energy use is the principle problem, but the energy use is definitely a problem also. It means that the infrastructure needs to be put in place and that infrastructure is not always is not growing at the speed that the demand for air conditioning is growing and so puts that risk, that robustness of the electric service, but also it is an energy that people pay for. We need to increase the efficiency of those units also in order to reduce their impact on the pocket books of the building owners and the people that use air conditioning.

Dylan: Maybe just quickly on the refrigerants. Freon is the brand name. A lot of people are familiar with and have a really bad rap, is that still the really bad refrigerants like that still used, or is that part of it getting better?

Daniel: The refrigerant story is one that is interesting. There was a big change in refrigerants. Freon is the name that we all know for refrigerants because it’s a cultural name, but it’s not really a good technical name for the refrigerators that we use today. We changed our refrigerants with the Montreal Protocol to the fact that they were depleting the ozone layer. We did an extraordinary global job of identifying a problem. The ozone layer is being depleted, and it’s going to be horrible for us if we continue to spew out these ozone-depleting chemicals. The conventional refrigerant that we used to use is Freon, which was a major destroyer of the ozone layer.

We changed out of those. The refrigerants that we use now are not ozone-depleting, but they have very high global warming potential, which means that they contribute to global warming more than CO2 on a per mass basis.

The most used present refrigerant is called 410A which has over 2,000 times more greenhouse gas impact than CO2. The global warming potential is over 2,000 times. It’s a very small amount, and creates a lot of greenhouse effect. Depending on what you read there have been various estimates, but generally, around 5% of the global warming that we’re experiencing right now is associated with refrigerant leakage. Remember I told you, this refrigerator was changed out and put on the market during the Montreal Protocol. We’re talking about something that just occurred in the ’80s to ’90s.

That’s the effect that it’s had until today around 5% of what we’re experiencing. If we continue going in this route with the uptake of air conditioning into the market it will become really difficult for us to really become optimistic about the future of our capacity to resolve global warming and climate change, because we can create infrastructure fast enough. In the renewable energy side to meet that demand that is occurring, the demand is variable and it’s outside of where renewable energy is. Just putting it out will create, forget about the electricity consumption and everything else, just the refrigerant within it is going to create outside effects of global warming. All of those things must be fixed.

Dylan: Okay. Let’s talk about what Blue Frontier is doing to address those problems.

Daniel: We’ve developed technology that addresses every single aspect of the problem that we’ve discussed about air conditioning. Our technology is three times more efficient than conventional air conditioning using standard methods to calculate that efficiency or comparative efficiency. In actual implementation, that’s a 60% to 90% reduction in the energy consumption of the air conditioning hours compared to a conventional unit. That 60% to 90% is that is a range because it all depends on how you use air conditioning, where you put it and the building type. It’s always a very large number, which is what we target.

The other thing that we’re doing is that the air conditioning technology that we’ve developed by the way that it operates, it has energy storage. It’s part of the inherent operation of the unit, which allows us to use electricity at the times when renewable energy is abundant, but not use electricity when air conditioning loads are high and when the peak demand would normally have occurred. It makes us such that we are now in sync, not only that we reduce energy consumption, but we’re now in sync with renewable energy generation.

Thus, we are supporting that renewable energy infrastructure in the grid and reducing the need for picking plants and for battery energy storage, and all the transmission and distribution lines that are required. Meet that peak into the future. We also dramatically eliminate the use of refrigerant and enable the use of very low GWP refrigerants. The way that our system works, it does contain a small amount of refrigerant, but that amount is much less than a conventional system. The way that our system is architected, that refrigerant never comes into contact with the part of the air conditioner, where air is actually being cooled.

The refrigerant in our system is not used to cool down or dehumidify air and in doing so, it opens up the opportunity for using alternative low GWP refrigerants that cannot be used for conventional air conditioners, because they are typically classified as slightly flammable. It opens up, puts us in a regulatory condition where those refrigerants can be used overall with press and technology. We would be reducing the refrigerant effect to global warming or the system compared to the others by more than 85%. Then we are actually a better air conditioner.

One of the things that we recognize is that technology doesn’t only have to change these big global problems. In the end, it must be substantially better for the actual air conditioner user than the previous technology. The previous technology does a really good job of dropping temperatures inside of buildings, but a really bad job of controlling humidity in buildings. Air conditioning and human comfort have two principal components, humidity control and indoor air temperature control.

The conventional technology, so what it does is that it passes air through a cold refrigerant and that air then is made cool, but it doesn’t dehumidify unless you overcool the air to condense the water out of the air and then bring it into the building causing it, such that if you ever stand close to any event of any air conditioning system today, you’re going to be very cold and uncomfortable because it’s almost 100% relative humidity air at a temperature that is extremely comfortable for human, for contact with humans.

Air system actually controls humidity and temperature independent of each other. We can actually dial in a humidity point and temperature point that is optimum for the building and its users. We can change that during the day and during the seasons to maintain that optimum comfort point and all of that we do while leveraging those changes to further increase the efficiency of our unit. You’ll end up with a smart air conditioner that actually makes it such that you’re comfortable throughout the entire year and throughout the entire day.

It allows us to regulate the different temperature variations that may exist between one side of the building, another, and different people’s preferences and it’s consuming much less energy and it’s tied to renewable energy. All of those things form quite a disruptive product compared to conventional technology.

Dylan: I’m sold. Yes, that’s a pretty convincing breakdown. Can you quickly describe how it works?

Daniel: Yes.

Dylan: How do you address all those problems in one system?

Daniel: This original technology actually comes from national renewable energy labs with whom we’ve worked for quite a bit of time now, even Blue Frontier had been founded. In fact, we became aware of how extraordinary that technology was that we became brave to start Blue Frontier because we felt like, wow, this has to be commercialized. Fundamentally, what the technology is. We grab what in air conditioning or engineering jargon, we call it liquid desiccant, but a liquid desiccant is a, in our case, it’s a salt solution. It’s a salt solution that is special to us that has a very high affinity to water.

In nature, you would never find it just as a liquid because it would absorb the water right from the atmosphere to get itself into solution. It’s a very high affinity to water. Now this salt solution, what we do is that we increase this concentration by evaporating a portion of the water. Then we convey this salt solution such that air passes over the salt solution in a special heat exchanger and in doing so, the salt solution, which is a high concentration, once absorbs the water from the atmosphere, absorbs water from the air that we’re trying to air condition. The first step of air conditioning, remember air conditioning has two components, dehumidification and temperature control. In that way, we dehumidified the air.

We do it in a way that is isothermal, meaning that we don’t change the temperature of the air as the water is being absorbed by the liquid desiccant or the salt solution but we end up with internal to our heat exchanger, something that is akin to a desert air. It’s dehumidified room outdoor air and what we do then is that we cool down the air by using a portion of this dry air that we’ve created, this desperate air that we’ve created. We do something called indirect evaporative cooling.

We grab a portion of it around 30% and we put a little bit of water into it. That air it’s been dehumidified, it absorbs the water, it drops its temperature like an absorption process. That drop in temperature actually drives the temperature reduction for the bulk air and 70% of the bulk air that’s going into the building and so you end up with low temperature, low humidity air. Now, we also end up with low concentration liquid desiccant because that desiccant or that salt solution has absorbed the water from the air that we’re going to cool. What we do is that we need to make that liquid desiccant or salt solution put it back into a high concentration state.

In our system, we use a small heat pump where we take electricity to drive a small compressor. That compressor increases here is where we use a little bit of refrigerant, less than the other systems because of the efficiency gain but we increase the pressure of that refrigerant which creates heat or we increase temperature. We use that to increase the temperature of the liquid desiccant which in doing so, it’s like when you start simmering soup, it evaporates some of the water.

Then we recover the water that we’ve evaporated by using the cold side of the heat pump to drop down the temperature of the air that has captured this water and when we capture that water back into our unit and we end up with water and high concentration liquid desiccant, which is stored, ready to be used when air condition mode is come back. That process of regeneration can occur at any time when you need air conditioning, all you need to do is convey water and liquid desiccant, high concentration liquid desiccant over to the air conditioning side, which is the seed exchanger that I mentioned earlier. I hope that wasn’t understandable.

Dylan: No, it is complex and I’ll have to find a diagram or something but it’s really helpful to have a sense of what’s going on.

Daniel: We have a couple of explainer videos on our website that can be useful.

Dylan: Oh, awesome. We’ll put some links.

Daniel: Thermodynamic cycles in general tend to be on the complex side.

The conventional air conditioners have a hard time keeping it cool, but it’s consuming much more electricity than before. Our unit does the opposite. As the temperature inside increases, our efficiency increases, our electricity consumption drops, and our cooling capacity goes higher. So we will provide an overall better air conditioner. It will be like switching over from your Honda Civic to the top-line Tesla.

— Daniel Betts

Dylan: Right. No, that was very well explained. We’ll put some links to those videos. People can, who can dig in a little bit more, maybe just get some of the business context. You just described the system, I guess, business model. Are you focusing more on the new construction space or replacing aging equipment or does it matter?

Daniel: Replacing existing equipment? That’s the largest portion of the market and we can actually jump start it. The majority of the air conditioning systems that are in place today are more than five years old. They’re low-efficiency units and we can just come in and provide an overall better service as the existing air conditioning systems continue to age, their maintenance costs are high, their electricity costs are increasing and in fact, they don’t really do a good job of cooling the space.

Another characteristic of the conventional air condition is that as temperatures go up, their electricity consumption goes up and the cooling capacity of the unit drops. In those really hot days, the conventional air conditioners have a really hard time just keeping the cool but it’s consuming much more electricity than before. Our unit, just the fundamental way that it works, does the opposite as the temperature of the site increases, our efficiency increases while our electricity consumption drops, and our cooling capacity goes higher. We will provide an overall better air conditioner. It will be like switching over from your Honda Civic over to the top-line Tesla car paying zero incremental costs associated with it.

Dylan: You talked about how it’s smart and how you can balance temperature and humidity in different parts of the building to optimize for comfort. How does that work? Do you have sensors in the building or what’s the feedback loop?

Daniel: Yes. The way that our system operates, it provides an enormous amount of flexibility on our system itself. It has the capacity to determine when it will consume electricity and by how much and it has the capacity to control humidity and temperature independent of each other, internal load, the temperature, the things that increase the temperature in the buildings. It’s actually going down in modern buildings. We have better insulation, we have LEDs for our lighting. Our computers are highly efficient and so as that happens, that temperature increase is slower than the humidity increase in the building which is caused by activities that we do and the amount of humans that are in it, et cetera.

It’s a real problem and that’s just getting worse. That’s the framework of that. What we do is we have the capacity to control both and we also have sensors that read because this is a return air unit. We have the capacity to determine what is happening with a return air, that air that is going into our building from inside the building. We get to measure that from a humidity and temperature standpoint and we also can determine how people are playing around with thermostats and we can even go further. We can actually tie into polling systems and other systems that give us direct feedback of how people might be feeling about their environment in terms of air conditioning performance.

We can then use AI to adapt our unit’s temperature and humidity points such that the air that we supply to the building is going to create the cooling effect that will create the largest amount of people to be comfortable within that building. That may change on a daily basis. That could be an hourly thing and then there’s a seasonal thing associated with it, and so once you put our unit into a building, it will learn the building and it will become integral to the performance of the building.

Dylan: As you know, Synapse has done a little bit of work in this space with NREL on developing some early prototypes of the technology. This is based on and I think one thing that stands out to me from that process is you start with a simulation that allows you to model all the fluid flows and heat transfer and everything. That shows this beautiful performance in theory from your simulation but then the challenges of taking that simulated model of a system and turning it into something you can actually build and will actually perform the same as a massive challenge. Has that been the experience of Blue Frontier as well?

Daniel: Absolutely. The model often tells you to do things that are really impractical from any sort of manufacturing or prototyping standpoint. We make concessions on performance to enable manufacturability for easy prototyping and deployment. That’s why 2017 to now, it’s a long period of time and that’s because we have concentrated on making sure that we have a mechanical overall design that we’re feeling pretty good. What we are calling here fulfills the requirements of a minimum viable disruptive product, it’s not just a minimum viable product, but a minimum viable disruptive product.

The next step, it’s actually a substantial jump, that we’re undergoing right now, which is we have identified construction, mechanical features, and system integration designs that we can make in prototyping, and in prototyping, we’re simulating what would be done in mass production but it’s not the same. It can never be the same because you don’t have a robot doing it and you don’t have automation. You end up with handmade things or using manufacturing processes that are not really that scalable for prototyping.

The challenge is really to infer what will happen when you make the investment into tooling and the high capital expenditures associated with pilot manufacturing or manufacturing with a certain level of uncertainty on how the change from prototype processes to mass production processes will affect the overall performance of your unit. Now we do have an advantage.

This is a philosophical idea in my mind but when I started becoming brave enough to start this business, one of the things that I wanted to make sure is that I had enough margin on the performance compared to the conventional systems that we can actually have a pretty high probability of creating a minimum viable disruptive product that meets most of the things that I talked about, even at the beginning. The only way to do that is to become brave and do some of the things that are truly disruptive and so bet on the things that were required to enable these things.

One of which is anybody that has experience with liquid desiccant and have the standard salt solutions that have been used in the past for the humidification, et cetera, are highly corrosive. Therefore, you can only build the systems made of plastic materials or non-corrosive materials like titanium, et cetera. It just was not viable, it created too much risk for us at the beginning. We spent a lot of time investigating how to have liquid desiccants that were non-corrosive but also enable us to have the performance of the conventional liquid desiccants, and we’ve arrived at the solution.

We’re really proud of the fact that we’ve overcome that problem. That has opened up a slew of opportunities in mechanical design, manufacturing, processes, prototyping, and performance enhancements that were impossible with the technology when we got it at the beginning.

Dylan: Just to illustrate some specifics there I imagine because you’re not tied to using plastic, you have new geometry opportunities from you can use sheet metal now that might be-

Daniel: Exactly.

Dylan: -thinners, so you can get smaller or fluid channels closer together, you can also have higher heat transfer in places where you want it.

Daniel: Absolutely. It also eliminates a major failure point of conventional systems or prior systems. If you have a corrosive fluid, even though it may not be like all the other liquid desiccants that being used in traditional, if you were someone were to look it up on the internet, they’re pretty innocuous to the environment, except for the fact that he can eat away at metal things that may be part of your infrastructure in your building, et cetera. By not having to worry about containment, or the liquid desiccant, again, to the level we do maintain that, but to the level that a conventional dealer technology needed to have it. It also reduces the complexity of how we do things.

We need to provide people with a capacity to live decent lives of dignity without needing to have the level of consumption we had in the past.

— Daniel Betts

Dylan: A few last questions to close this out. What’s your perspective on the future of our planet, and why? How optimistic or pessimistic are you?

Daniel: I’m generally neutral. There are a lot of sources of pessimism. I believe that there are a lot of and I am lucky that I get to do something that I think will help. I get to work with people that are really, really way smarter than I am, that are working on some things that will really help. That gives me a lot of hope when I see the environment for investment in clean tech, when I see the environment for implementation of clean tech. All of that gives me a lot of hope that maybe the wizards out there will figure out things that will alleviate the problem.

However, I am cognizant of the fact that unless there is a fundamental change in how we think, as there is our frame of mind model that we have for the development of the earth, and the human species. We will have a really hard time getting to the finish line, because we do not put value in things that don’t bring money, although they’re extremely valuable. Unless we start doing that, we find value in the things that are invaluable, we will have a hard time getting there because there will always be a business to be done and things that exploit those things that we believe are just there for the taking.

I think that’s happening, I think that little by little we’re changing, and we’re re-evaluating who we are and where we’re going. I think that we need to provide people with a capacity to live decent lives of dignity, without having to have the level of consumption that we have had in the past,

Dylan: Who is one other person or company doing something to address climate change that’s inspiring you?

Daniel: It’s a difficult question. I’ll talk about an institution that gives me an enormous amount of hope, which represents a lot of companies. Actually, maybe, yes, more than one institution. We became part of the third derivative, which is an organization that is helping identify really amazing entrepreneurs with a very high variety of technologies, all of them addressing all the different aspects of things that affect climate change.

Dylan: Last question, what advice do you have for someone not working in climate tech today who wants to do something to help?

Daniel: I think that philosophical change needs to be spread, and start looking at the way we live, and the way things are, to try to make sure that another way we elect our officials, et cetera, what questions we have, try to make sure that they are in service of the planet, and our only home. I think that that’s important. It is important also to recognize that individuals have limited power in their own lives, to take away the emissions that are coming from the largest polluters on Earth. The emissions are concentrated on a very small group of people and it’s very small group of companies.

Regulation is going to be essential, and for things to change, that, again, requires mobilization of people to organize themselves and say, “Yes, I’m not willing to put my planet at risk. I want my children to have lives.” If we all think that way, and our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, we want to live in dignity, so this aspirin.

Dylan: Well said, that’s a good inspiring note to close out on, Daniel, it’s been really fun talking to you. I’ve learned a lot. I’m inspired and I’m really excited to see what Blue Frontier does. Congratulations on the Series A again.

Daniel: Thank you.

Dylan: Thanks a lot for your time.

Daniel: Excellent. Thank you, Dylan, take care.Dylan: Hardware to Save a Planet is brought to you by Synapse. To find out more about us and how we develop hardware solutions for the world’s most ambitious companies, head to Then make sure to search for Hardware to Save a Planet in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google podcasts or anywhere you’d like to listen. Make sure to click Subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. On behalf of the team here at Synapse–

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