Elon Musk's Carbon Removal Contest Goes Live

Elon Musk's Carbon Removal Contest Goes Live
Xprize has announced the $100 million Xprize Carbon Removal competition, which is sponsored by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation.

Xprize has announced the $100 million Xprize Carbon Removal competition, which is sponsored by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation.

The four-year contest invites innovators and teams from anywhere on the planet to create and demonstrate a solution that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans and lock it away permanently in an “environmentally benign way”, Xprize’s website notes.

To win the competition, teams must demonstrate a rigorous, validated scale model of their solution at a level of carbon removal of 1 ton of CO2 per day, and further must demonstrate to a team of judges the ability of their solution to economically scale to gigaton levels, Xprize states. The objective of the competition is to inspire and help scale efficient solutions to collectively achieve a 10 gigaton per year carbon removal target by 2050, according to Xprize. 

The full competition guidelines will be announced on April 22, which is when team registrations will begin, and the contest will last until Earth Day 2025. After 18 months, at the discretion of the competition judges, the 15 top teams selected will receive $1 million each. Milestone awards will kickstart team fundraising for their operating budgets to achieve the full-scale demonstrations required to win the prize.

In the same timeframe, a total of 25 $200,000 student scholarships will be distributed to student teams competing. The remaining $80 million in purses will be given to the grand prize winner ($50 million), second place ($20 million), and third place ($10 million).

“We want to make a truly meaningful impact,” Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, said in a company statement.

“Carbon negativity, not neutrality. The ultimate goal is scalable carbon extraction that is measured based on the ‘fully considered cost per ton’ which includes the environmental impact,” he added.

“This is not a theoretical competition, we want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level. Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence,” Musk continued. 

Peter H. Diamandis, the founder and executive chairman of Xprize, said “we are challenging engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to build and demonstrate carbon removal systems that work”.

“Systems that in sub-scale can demonstrate real, viable carbon removal at 1 ton per day, and then show us how those systems can scale, cost effectively, to scale massively to gigaton scale. The goal of this competition is to inspire entrepreneurs and engineers to build the carbon dioxide removal solutions, many of which have only been discussed and debated,” he added. 

“We want to see them built, tested, and validated. We hope this Xprize will activate the public and private sectors to get involved in the same way that the $10M Ansari Xprize brought about the commercial spaceflight industry,” he continued.

On January 21, Musk announced on Twitter that he was donating $100 million towards a prize for the best carbon capture technology. Musk noted at the time that details of the prize would be revealed later on. Following the announcement, the NECCUS Alliance issued a rallying call to Scotland, stating “we can win this”.

Xprize is a nonprofit organization, which describes itself as the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. The Musk Foundation creates grants are made in support of renewable energy research and advocacy, human space exploration research and advocacy, pediatric research, science and engineering education, and development of safe artificial intelligence to benefit humanity.

 To contact the author, email andreas.exarheas@rigzone.com


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