Fellow Profile

See All Fellows




Carbon Removal


Berkeley, California



Christian Haakonsen

Founder, Unemit

Christian joins Breakthrough Energy’s Innovator Fellows program from Unemit in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He combines his background in nuclear science and engineering with his professional business experience to tackle climate change with solutions that are both technically innovative and optimized to swiftly gain traction for maximal impact. At Unemit, Christian and his team are leveraging readily available materials and supply chains to build cheaper, more scalable direct air capture (DAC) technology.

Unemit’s solution captures atmospheric CO2 in modular air contactors, and then extracts it from the chemical sorbent with low-temperature renewable heat in a centralized and energy-efficient way. The extracted carbon dioxide can then be permanently stored underground or via industrial applications to achieve net removal from the atmosphere. Through the Fellows program, Christian aims to mature his team’s DAC solution so that it can be demonstrated in a pilot facility and then swiftly scaled to gigaton-per-year capacity by mid-century.

Having grown up in Norway, Christian thoroughly enjoys the outdoors in any season. That and the injustice of climate change drives his passion for mitigating it, whether through his work at MIT, Boston Consulting Group, or Unemit. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics and a Master of Science in Astrophysics from McGill University; as well as a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


What is your favorite word and why?
Future. Every choice affects it and is made to do so, whether or not people realize they’re making one or why.

What beliefs drive you?
That we should leave the world better than we found it.

What is a fun fact about you?
I went to (and lived at) a high school with 200 students from 83 different countries, and my time there profoundly impacted who I am today.