Many years, 100 million dollars compete Xprize For startups trying to eliminate or reverse carbon emissions, the first is the big winner. While most of this Musk money won’t be given away until 2025, these 15 companies have each get 1 million dollars today to keep the lights on until then.
Xprize Remove Carbon, funded by the Musk Foundation, aims to reward new methods to “draw carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or ocean and lock it in permanently in an environmentally healthy way.” We have seen a few companies Do this with venture capital; it’s clearly an important and potentially transformative and profitable space.
Of course Xprize is not looking to make a profit, but to express and execute an idea, which means things are usually a bit more early stage. Last year, reviewers identified an initial list of more than a thousand applicants to the top 60 and ultimately these 15, based on “scientific validity… operational plans, data. performance, lifecycle analysis and cost estimation”.
Here is a very basic summary of each, in the order listed on the Xprize website:
- Calcite: Uses “the natural carbon-absorbing properties of Calcium Hydroxide” to pull it out of the air at scale.
- Carbyon: “Rapid drum rotation” containing material designed to capture CO2
- Heirloom + Carbfix: Sequester carbon in naturally occurring minerals and fluids through effective contact
- The Hajar project: Use minerals 44.01 of peridotit injection procedure
- Sustaera: “Direct air capture 2.0” with improved modulus and cheaper chemical reaction pathways
- Verdox + Carbfix (yes, they are listed twice): “Electroswing adsorption” to fix CO2 with 70% less energy
- Institute of Bioeconomy at ISU: Using pyrolysis to fix carbon derived from plants (with bio-oil as a by-product)
- Global Algae: Algae farms naturally capture CO2 from the air
- NetZero: Also pyrolysis (helpful video explanation this)
- PlantVillage: Helping farmers in Africa adapt to climate change
- Takachar: Mobile “lean oxidation” to convert waste biomass into fuel, fertilizer, etc.
- Captura: Extraction of CO2 directly from seawater by unspecified methods
- Marine aquaculture: “Raw seaweed farming, deep watered.” Kelp Farm!
- Planet: Turns mine waste into a “mild, non-toxic antacid” that restores the ocean’s natural pH
- Mineral Carbin: Using mine waste for mineralization
Now that these key winners have been announced, the “real” competition begins. Registration will remain open until the end of 2023, and then groups have until 2025 to demonstrate actual removal of 1,000 tonnes of carbon per year, with a million removal cost model and plans to go beyond position. Earth Day 2025 will be the day to announce the winners, with $50 million for first place, $20 million for second and $10 million for third.
Student groups are eligible for $250K scholarships, so ask your advisor or lab head if it’s something worth taking. We’ll check back in a few years from now when there are some highlights in this area.