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XPRIZE launches $20m carbon capture and utilisation competition

October 1, 2015
Chemical Value Chain

US energy giant and oil sands body stump up funding for carbon capture technology prize

The high profile XPRIZE initiative has this week launched a new $20m prize designed to spark innovation in the emerging carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) sector.

The competition, which follows the XPRIZE model of offering a cash prize to the team of researchers that delivers the biggest technological breakthrough, is being sponsored by US energy giant NRG Energy and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), a group of 13 companies operating in the controversial oil sands industry.

The four-and-half-year competition operates in two tracks, dividing its focus between carbon capture technologies for coal power plants and technologies for gas facilities. The winners will successfully develop breakthrough technologies that “convert the most CO2 into one or more products with the highest net value”.

“We are living in an age of unprecedented technological progress and prosperity driven by energy,” said Peter Diamandis, chairman and chief executive of XPRIZE, in a statement. “Yet, most of this energy comes from burning fossil fuels, a leading contributor to climate change. We are embarking on one urgent step in XPRIZE’s energy roadmap of incentivising a clean and positive energy future that addresses a suite of grand challenges.”

The organisation said it would appoint a judging panel to evaluate the various technologies and approaches developed by teams during the competition, while a separate third-party Scientific Advisory Board of experts would advise on a variety of approaches to CO2 conversion.

Advocates of CCU technologies have long argued that they could prove a more effective means of driving the adoption of carbon capture systems when compared to alternative carbon capture and storage approaches, as they result in a product that can be sold to offset some of the cost of deploying the technology.

XPRIZE noted there was evidence captured CO2 could be used in a wide range of products, including cement and concrete, chemicals used in manufacturing processes, and low-carbon transportation fuels.

“We know that CO2 emissions contribute to climate change so we’re continually working to improve our environmental performance in the oil sands,” said Dan Wicklum, COSIA chief executive, in a statement. “This competition will be a catalyst to accelerate our progress towards a cleaner global energy future by converting CO2 emissions into valuable products. A team may win the money, but our energy future will win the prize.”

By BusinessGreen staff

Source: BusinessGreen

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