On January 21, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he would be donating $100 million toward a prize for the best carbon capture technology with plans to provide details the following week. Now, we have all the details we’ve been waiting for.
Yesterday, we learned that Elon Musk has delegated the running of the contest to the XPRIZE Foundation, a non-profit organization that designs and hosts public competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity. Since 1994, the XPRIZE Foundation has been running innovation prizes in the areas of space, oceans, learning, health, energy, environment, transportation, safety, and robotics.
According to a Monday announcement from the XPRIZE Foundation, the innovation prize will be awarded for the best technology created for removing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans and store that carbon in a safe, cost-effective way. Musk also added:
“We want teams to build real systems that can make a measurable impact at a gigaton level. whatever it takes. time is of the essence.”
XPRIZE says that the contest will run for four years, launching on April 22, 2021 (Earth Day) and run through Earth Day 2025, XPRIZE says. Musk provided the $100 million prize purse.
Below is how XPRIZE describes the contest.
The world’s leading scientists estimate that we may need to remove as much as 6 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2030, and 10 gigatons per year by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change. For humanity to reach the Paris Agreements goal of limiting the Earth’s temperature rise to no more than 1.5˚(C) of pre-industrial levels, or even 2˚(C), we need bold, radical tech innovation and scale up that goes beyond limiting CO2 emissions, but actually removes CO2 already in the air and oceans. If humanity continues on a business-as-usual path, the global average temperature could increase 6˚(C) by the year 2100.
This four-year global competition invites innovators and teams from anywhere on the planet to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans ultimately scaling massively to gigaton levels, locking away CO2 permanently in an environmentally benign way.
Solutions will be scientifically evaluated across multiple criteria such as; amount of CO2 removed, life cycle analysis of the removal process, energy efficiency, land footprint and sequestration capabilities.
Any carbon-negative solution is eligible: nature-based, direct air capture, oceans, mineralization, or anything else that sequesters CO2 permanently.
How to win
To win the XPRIZE prize money, a team must remove carbon dioxide and store it for a very long time: “A minimum goal of 100 years is desired,” XPRIZE says. Below is a detail of what you have to do to win the contest.
To win the competition, teams must demonstrate a rigorous, validated scale model of their carbon removal solution, and further must demonstrate to a team of judges the ability of their solution to economically scale to gigaton levels. The objective of this XPRIZE is to inspire and help scale efficient solutions to collectively achieve the 10 gigaton per year carbon removal target by 2050, to help fight climate change and restore the Earth’s carbon balance.
Teams can submit entries across natural, engineer and hybrid solutions. Judges in the competition will evaluate the teams based upon four basic criteria:
A working carbon removal prototype that can be rigorously validated and capable of removing at least 1 ton per day.
The team’s ability to demonstrate to the judges that their solution can economically scale to the gigaton level.
The main metric for this competition is fully considered cost per ton, inclusive of whatever considerations are necessary for environmental benefit, permanence, any value-added products; and
The final criteria is the length of time that the removed carbon is locked up for. A minimum goal of 100 years is desired.
The $100M in prize purses will be distributed in the following manner. 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 twenty-five $200,000 student scholarships will be distributed to student teams competing. The remaining $80M in Purses will be distributed as follows:
Grand Prize Winner (1st Place): $50M
All information preliminary and subject to change so sign up to stay up to date with competition news and announcements. Full competition guidelines, prize purse, and more information to be confirmed on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2021.
How to register and participate
Team registration opens with the announcement of the full competition guidelines on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2021. The competition will last for 4 years through Earth Day 2025. Enter your email to receive the latest competition news, announcements and content on XPRIZE Carbon Removal.
Meanwhile, you may visit the XPRIZE Carbon Removal contest page and provide your email to receive the latest competition news, announcements, and content on XPRIZE Carbon Removal
Below is a video overview of the contest.
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