Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk along with his foundation are funding the XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition, which is aimed at fighting climate change and rebalancing our planet’s carbon cycle.
This week, XPRIZE announced that $5 million of that prize has been awarded to 23 student-led teams, with 18 of those teams receiving $250,000 to jumpstart their carbon removal projects — and they can also compete in the main competition. The remaining five teams will receive $100,000 to develop technologies that will support the Measurement, Reporting, or Verification (MRV) of carbon removal solutions.
XPRIZE noted that it had received a total of 195 complete submissions from 44 countries. Each of the teams was required to submit a detailed proposal that outlined the projects they intended to execute. The teams also had to convince XPRIZE’s independent panel of judges that their project was scientifically viable, that it can have a positive impact on our climate at scale, and that the team had the necessary skills to pull it off.
There were submissions from people as young as 11 years old and from all fields of expertise. XPRIZE is focusing on the next generation of climate innovators because they want to jumpstart a new carbon dioxide reduction industry. There is still $95 million left in the prize and XPRIZE has a new registration deadline for its next round of funding. If you are working on a carbon removal solution and would like to register, you can learn more here.
The Winning Teams
The winning teams hailed from Germany, the U.S., China, Australia, Tasmania, the U.K., India, Canada, Kenya, and Launceston. One of the winning teams, Blue Symbiosis, is repurposing retired oil and gas infrastructure (think oil rigs) into seaweed cultivation sites, which is a great alternative to removing the infrastructure, which in most cases has already become or started becoming biodiverse reefs.
“The offshore rig forms the trunk. Blue Symbiosis sustains the branches and then the leaves can grow all while saving decommissioning costs. Carbon will be stored by using the seaweed in 100-year construction materials.”
Another one of the winning teams, the Mississippi State Energy Club’s Be Creative Energy, is a student-led group at Mississippi State University. The team is developing a system for carbon capture attached to biomass gasification as a solution for carbon removal.
You can read more about the winners and watch their submission videos here.