A passion for complex ventilation systems

Saving the world with pomegranate antioxidants and liquid chimneys.

Published October 23, 2006 3:23PM (EDT)

There is a whole lot to love about David Whitford's Fortune Small Business profile of Tom Kiser, the CEO of Ohio-based Professional Supply Inc., an energy consultant firm. What's not to like about a man with "a passion for complex industrial ventilation systems" who believes he can make a dent in global warming with his experimental "liquid chimney" technology? (Thanks to Gregor Wolbring for the tip.)

It's not every day that you find ex-football coaches from Ohio working with California entrepreneurs who want to "save the world with antioxidants from pomegranates" to try to figure out a way to sequester carbon dioxide from industrial emissions. Or have partnered with environmental design guru William McDonough to save Ford Motor Co. millions of dollars in fuel costs by refurbishing its River Rouge plant.

OK, there are some minor quibbles: He owns a speedboat, tools around in a personal jet, and his son drives a Hummer, so he's doing his part to create global warming as well as combat it. And there's a rather large sore thumb of a structural problem: The effusive profile says next to nothing about how the technology actually works, and it has yet to be implemented.

But the story's kicker is a Monday morning quote to organize your life by.

Even if every manufacturer in America were to dramatically transform its operations tomorrow, would that stave off an environmental disaster? Kiser can't know; all he can do is act.

"All right, hot damn, you know what?" he says. "If there's no God, man, we're on our own. We'd better get busy. If there is a God, yeah, there's a lot of things I'd like to hold him accountable for. But I don't get to talk to him till the next deal. And I'm really afraid when I get there, he's gonna say, 'I'd like to ask you the same question: What in the hell were you doing down there?'"

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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