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Tesla CEO Elon Musk puts up promised $100 million toward carbon capture through XPRIZE

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is following through with his promise to offer $100 million for the best carbon capture technology through a new XPRIZE challenge.

Elon Musk promoting carbon capture

Carbon capture, which is also called “carbon capture and storage” (CCS), are processes that involve capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) at the source of emission and sequestrating in order for it to not leak into the air.

It also sometimes involves technologies to use the carbon for other purposes.

The concept has been suggested as a potential solution to slow down climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere or even reversing it in the future.

However, current carbon capture technologies have often proven inefficient and add cost to energy production – making it uncompetitive without carbon prices. In fact, the only carbon capture plant in the US just closed.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last month that he would donate $100 million to help develop the best carbon capture technology.

The competition will be through XPRIZE

XPRIZE, a nonprofit organization that designs and hosts public competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity, is going to organize the competition.

They confirmed that the $100 million in prizes donated by Musk result the biggest purses yet:

XPRIZE Carbon Removal is aimed at tackling the biggest threat facing humanity — fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle. Funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation, this $100M competition is the largest incentive prize in history, an extraordinary milestone.

The full details of the competition will not be revealed until Earth Day, April 22, 2021, but they still released some broader guidelines.

They wrote on a new webpage for 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.

Musk commented on the competition announcement:

We want teams to build real systems that can make a measurable impact at a gigaton level. Whatever it takes. Time is the essence.

As usual, XPRIZE tries to give out the prizes in the most optimal way to help develop as much useful technology as possible.

The contest will last up to four years, but after 18 months, 15 finalists will received $1 million each to kickstart their operating budget to deliver a full-scale demonstration of their carbon capture technology.

At the end, a grand prize winner will receive $50 million with the second and third places receiving $20 million and $10 million, respectively.

Also, 25 students will receive $200,000 scholarships.

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