‘Shoe Without a Footprint’: NRG and 10xBeta Created Sneakers Made ‘Out of Thin Air’

The “Shoe Without A Footprint” sneakers are made mostly out of recycled carbon dioxide emissions.

It is hard to surprise people nowadays, we have witnessed so many innovations. But sneakers made out of thin air still arise contradictory emotions. It is definitely hard to believe. Let us explain!

NRG started from asking itself a question – we recycle metal, plastic, paper, so why not carbon dioxide? The result was a creation of its “Shoe Without A Footprint” sneakers. The process included capturing effluent from power plants, cooling it, and separating out the carbon dioxide. After that, the carbon dioxide became the base of a chemical used to create the polymer that finally formed the shoe’s supportive foam.

NRG hasn’t revealed many details about the process. It is known that the company teamed up with 10xBeta and D’wayne Edwards, a former Design Director at Nike, to create the sneakers.

NRG Energy vice president Gin Kinney presented a prototype sneaker with incorporated captured carbon dioxide in the foam of its sole at Skylight Clarkson Sq in Lower Manhattan. Kinney underlined that the unveiled “Shoe Without a Footprint” suits its mission to reduce and repurpose carbon emissions.

The NRG sneakers are not available for purchase. The company created only five pairs in promotion of the NRG-sponsored competition Carbon XPrize, where innovative technologies capable of turning carbon dioxide emissions into useful products are funded.

“These shoes are a prototype, symbolizing what could be possible in the future,” Gin Kinney, vice president of NRG Business Solutions, told The Huffington Post in an email. “The important thing was for us to produce a product that was tangible, relatable and manufactured in-mass to illustrate the opportunity that this XPrize represents.”

Marcel Botha, CEO of 10xBeta, says that mass-produced zero-carbon shoes may become a reality sooner than we might think. The technology is scalable, and “can become commercially available once the processes are further developed for mass production.”

Carbon capture technologies and their potential applications have been in focus of interest of scientists, environmentalists and companies alike in recent years. Some companies transform carbon dioxide into fuel. Researchers are involved into turning the greenhouse gas into stone and concrete.

Botha expresses confidence that the technology behind the zero-carbon shoe and similar innovations can help people get ready for the environmental challenges waiting ahead.

“I’m an optimist. And I do think that science will help us reverse the negative impact that we as a species have had on the planet,” he said.

Indeed, experts state that such technologies can help during future climate changes. However, there are those who consider the technology can only bring false hopes. In 2011, the American Physical Society published a report where it concluded that carbon capture “is not currently an economically viable approach” to solving the climate change crisis.

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