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A Zip-Lock Bag for Planet Earth
By Patrick Baltatzis

(Business 2.0) – Could the Sahara become Africa's next breadbasket? Torfinn Johnsen, founder of Norway's Albedo Technology International, thinks it can. The startup has formulated a fertilizer that boosts soil's ability to reflect the sun, thereby reducing surface temperature, carbon dioxide emissions, and the need for water by as much as 80 percent. "It has the potential to affect both climate change and the 2 billion people living in water-stressed regions of the world," says Torleiv Bilstad, an environmental technologies professor at Norway's University of Stavanger.

Johnsen, well known in Norway for his environmentally friendly industrial technologies, came up with the idea after discovering that most carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from nature. Rather than try to control mankind's fossil fuel consumption, Johnsen set out to stymie soil's contributions instead. Slated for release in 2007, the product will target the $16 billion global fertilizer market and the $4 billion irrigation market. Albedo says sales could reach $1 billion by 2010. Which is the kind of emissions trade everyone can agree on.

SUN RAYS

BIOMEMBRANE

SOIL

1 A biomembrane made of water and organic waste is sprayed onto farmland.

2 The layer of pigmented fertilizer increases the soil's ability to reflect solar energy.

3 With less sun absorbed, the land's temperature cools and its water content increases.