Get to know the investors, policymakers, scientists and activists who are shaping the future of the environment.

By Bloomberg Businessweek

They didn’t break the climate, but they’re working hard to fix it. They’re investing in environmental startups (Tom Chi and Julie Pullen) and bringing cleantech to consumers (Ben Eidelson). They’re developing new ways to track flood risks (Bessie Schwarz) and methane emissions (Caroline Alden) and figuring out how to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (Alex Gagnon and Julian Sachs). They’re cleaning up the apparel industry (Kim van der Weerd) and reinventing the motor for the electric age (Ben Schuler). They’re creating climate models for a warming world (Kate Marvel), building new systems for climate finance (Avinash Persaud) and rallying young people to the cause (Xiye Bastida and Vanessa Nakate). Reaching net zero is a tall order with a daunting timeline, but the people on this list are rising to the challenge.

Founder and CEO, Infinitum

Ben Schuler’s mission is one step removed from reinventing the wheel: He wants to reinvent the motor.

The modern alternating-current motor was commercialized by Nikola Tesla in the 1880s and hasn’t changed all that much since. Today more than half of the world’s electricity is used to power motors, which rely on wound copper wires and iron.

Schuler’s eight-year-old company, Texas-based Infinitum, prints copper onto circuit boards instead, dramatically reducing the metal needed, cutting the motor’s weight in half and improving efficiency. So much so that Infinitum’s motors have won a slew of awards, and the company raked in $185 million in its latest round of fundraising last year.

Leveling up motor efficiency will help renewable energy go further. Electric cars and heat pumps are two obvious targets for Infinitum, which has also installed its motors in more than a dozen data centers—specifically, in the fans that keep servers cool.

While motors are usually invisible, Infinitum’s are painted fire-engine red to help them stand out. On their own, each one is a small climate win, creating what Schuler says is “incremental change.” But what he’s after is the “astronomical impact” his ruby-hued machines can have when they hum along together.

In July, Infinitum will fire up a second factory in Saltillo, Mexico, that will allow the company to double its production capacity to 200,000 motors by the end of this year. Since launching the first factory in Tijuana, Schuler says it’s a “cut and paste” process to build more, which should keep Infinitum competitive against incumbent manufacturers’ 100-year head start. Schuler is confident the savings his technology delivers can ultimately win the race. 

Read the full article at Bloomberg.