*Editor’s note: This is the second in an ongoing series of personality profiles titled “Life on the Lake.” If you have a suggestion for someone we should feature, let us know at email@example.com.
It’s just a dream right now, but he says he knows it can work.
For resident Greg Brodd, CEO of Kirkland wastewater technology firm VOST Environmental, an entrepreneurial spirit with a touch of environmentalism could help make a dent in high gas prices and global warming.
Brodd’s idea is to take his company’s existing technology and put it to use to produce non-foodstuff biofuel from microscopic algae, which is an oil-rich organism. Like his wastewater treatment plant designs, Brodd, 63, wants to develop the alternative fuel by miniaturizing and increasing efficiency — all using a method his company developed. Brodd’s company is one of a growing number of Puget Sound and Kirkland businesses tapping into the power of the marketplace for the good of the environment.
“Capitalists get a bad name,” he said. “It’s really only through capitalism that we’ll help clean up and preserve our environment.”
Along with his partners Jim Tyler and David Pollock, Brodd’s company has worked on branching out their “deep shaft” sewage-treatment concept created 35 years ago by Pollock. The company presently holds 25 patents pending. As it turns out, the same ideas that work in the sewage business can be used to develop oil-rich algae, which can be harvested as non-foodstuff biofuel.
Originally from San Mateo and Sacramento, Calif., Brodd’s family moved to Bellevue when he was a teenager. He graduated from Bellevue High School in the 1960s.
He is now in his 35th year as a Kirkland resident.
The next step for his fledgling company is to raise capital and build a demonstration project, but they haven’t struck a deal yet. Brodd, however, is brimming with optimism. In fact, it’s difficult to ask him about anything else. Once he gets going talking about the idea, it’s hard for him to put on the brakes.
“You’ve got to give them the elevator speech,” he joked.
The elevator speech is still going through some edits, but Brodd excitedly explains that the same technology developed by Pollock can be used to grow micro-organism algae at a rate much faster — and in a facility much smaller — than plans currently proposed in the state and elsewhere. He estimates the technology is three years away from producing biofuel from algae in a demonstration plant, if funded.
Other green business leaders in the area are taking an interest in Brodd’s biofuel plans. Earthlab Executive Director Anna Rising, whose Web-based company is focused on educating the public about global warming, said Brodd’s work on biofuel could reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and slow global warming.
Rising also happens to serve with Brodd on the Everest neighborhood council and lives a few doors down.
“He’s incredibly knowledgeable about his work,” she said.