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New XPrize To Give $20 Million For Carbon Capture

Technology: Teams will compete on innovations that lead to high-value products made from CO2

by Melody M. Bomgardner
October 5, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 39

A new competition will award $20 million for carbon capture technologies that convert carbon dioxide into high-value products. NRG, a U.S.-based energy provider, and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), a group of 13 oil sands producers, are sponsoring the award.

The contest is being organized by the XPrize Foundation, which awarded its first prize in 2005 for suborbital spaceflight. Its most recent prize, awarded in July, was a total of $2 million for three teams that developed sensors to track ocean acidification. The foundation says its competitions are open to teams of “scientists, engineers, academics, entrepreneurs, and other innovators with new ideas from all over the world.”

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize will award original solutions for converting CO2 from power plant emissions into products such as building materials, polymers, and low-carbon-footprint fuels, according to XPrize. The contest will have two tracks focused on waste CO2 from coal-fired and natural-gas-fired power plants.

The prize should help put waste CO2 in a new, more favorable light, says Peter Styring, director of the U.K. Centre for Carbon Dioxide Utilization at the University of Sheffield, in England. “It’s a good way of getting the idea out there and will get people thinking; $20 million is not to be sneezed at,” he says.

Styring plans to compete for the prize with a technology to convert CO2 into fertilizer. Teams will have until June 2016 to register for the competition; winners will be announced in March 2020.


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