The 4-year $100M competition catalyzed the industry toward game-changing carbon negative solutions


LOS ANGELES, May 8, 2024 -- XPRIZE, the world's leader in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions to solve humanity's grand challenges, today announced the 20 finalist teams selected to compete in the last stage of its XPRIZE Carbon Removal. The four-year global competition is designed to combat climate change by rebalancing Earth's carbon cycle, offering $100 million to innovators who can create and demonstrate solutions that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere or the oceans and sequester it durably and sustainably. The prize helped catalyze the growth of an entire new industry, galvanizing over 1,300 teams to develop new ideas for carbon dioxide removal (CDR). These 20 finalists represent leading CDR solutions with the potential to make meaningful contributions to a diverse, global, sustainable, gigatonne-scale CDR effort.



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Excess CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere and oceans is the main driver of climate change, with human-produced CO2 emissions accounting for roughly two-thirds (71%) of all greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to dramatic emissions reductions, sustainable and scalable carbon removal solutions will be needed to prevent average global temperatures from rising above 1.5°C, and avoid the risk of extreme heat, abnormal weather patterns, and stresses on food production and access to water, among other challenges. Without significant climate interventions, the global average temperature could increase by 6°C within this century.


"For the world to effectively address greenhouse gas emissions, carbon removal is an essential element of the path to Net Zero. There's no way to reverse humanity's impact on the climate without extracting carbon from our atmosphere and oceans," said Anousheh Ansari, chief executive officer, XPRIZE. "We need a range of bold, innovative CDR solutions to manage the vast quantities of CO2 released into our environment and impacting our planet. The teams that have been competing for this Prize are all part of building a set of robust and effective solutions and our 20 teams advancing to the final stage of XPRIZE Carbon Removal will have an opportunity to demonstrate their potential to have a significant impact on the climate."


The finalists were selected based upon their performance in three key areas: operations, sustainability, and cost. The finalists demonstrated their ability to execute a substantial demonstration that approaches the competition's goal of removing 1,000 net tonnes of CO2 in the final year of the competition, and a viable pathway to reaching megatonne scale in the coming years and eventually gigatonne scale with an understanding of their environmental and social impacts.


The 20 finalist teams included below are listed by the competition's four removal pathway tracks: Air, Rocks, Oceans, Land, Oceans.


Air, Direct Air Capture (DAC)

Yuanchu is a pioneering startup focused on developing disruptive direct air mineralization (DAM) technology, aimed at removing CO2 from the air and permanently sequestering it into solid carbonated material on a gigatonne scale, with a cost of less than $200 per ton of CO2 and stable mineralization products lasting for 1000 years.


Land

Takachar utilizes MIT technology to construct a decentralized internet-of-things-enabled reactor network, facilitating rapid and profitable scaling of biochar deployment independent of carbon offset credits. They use patent-pending, low-cost, and portable hardware. This enables village-based production of customizable biochar-based fertilizers from locally available crop residues, ultimately improving farmers' crop yields by up to 30% and net income by 50%, thereby advancing climate justice.

16. Vaulted Deep – HQ Location: US, Demo Location: US

Vaulted delivers scalable, permanent, carbon removal by geologically sequestering carbon-filled organic wastes. Their patented slurry sequestration, which involves the geological injection of minimally processed wastes for permanent (10,000+ year) carbon removal.


Oceans

Planetary leverages ocean alkalinity enhancement (OAE) to enhance the ocean's natural carbon removal capabilities, developing global projects in collaboration with stakeholders and utilizing the ocean carbon platform (OCP) to qualify alkalinity sources, automate operations, ensure ocean safety, and measure and monetize carbon removal.


"This cohort of exceptional teams represents a diversity of innovations and solutions across a range of CDR pathways, and shows the significant progress the industry is making in a short period of time," said Nikki Batchelor, executive director, XPRIZE Carbon Removal. "Over the past three years, this competition has helped accelerate the pace of technology development for a whole new industry of high-potential solutions aimed at reversing climate change."


Additionally, the judges selected three "XFactor Teams" – Metalplant, Gigablue, and Alaska Future Ecology Institute – who will not be advancing in the Finals, but are pursuing exciting and novel concepts with significant potential impact. XPRIZE also released a list of the Top 100 teams that represent a new generation of promising solutions across a range of carbon removal pathways.


Since the inception of XPRIZE Carbon Removal in 2021, over 1,300 teams from 88 countries have participated across the competition's four removal pathway tracks. These teams, totaling over 8,400 members, represent various backgrounds including scientists, engineers, technologists, students, and newcomers. 


"When it comes to reaching gigaton-scale removals, it is imperative for many innovators to be in the mix, each making a concerted, collaborative push to restore the climate. The XPRIZE Carbon Removal prize is the catalyst that this industry has been waiting for to drive innovation," said Ben Rubin, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Carbon Business Council and key partner of the Carbon Removal prize. "The efforts of these teams are helping to supercharge first of their kind carbon removal pathways. We look forward to the impact that comes not only from the winning teams, but from the competition overall."


The final stage of the competition will take place over the next year, wherein finalist teams are challenged to demonstrate 1,000 net tonnes of CO2 removal and will be judged based on their fully considered cost, operational performance, and against sustainable scalability requirements. To date, XPRIZE Carbon Removal awarded $20M, with $5M distributed to 23 student teams, and $15M awarded to 15 milestone winners. The grand prize winner will take home $50M, and $30M will be distributed amongst runners up chosen by the competition judges in April 2025.


XPRIZE Carbon Removal builds on XPRIZE's previous work in the carbon management sector, which includes its NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE that offered $20M to innovators to develop breakthrough technologies that captured and converted industrial CO2 emissions into usable products. Awarded in 2021, the competition resulted in winning technologies that mineralize carbon into concrete to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment.


XPRIZE Carbon Removal is funded by the Musk Foundation.


Learn more and get involved at xprize.org/carbonremoval.


About XPRIZE


XPRIZE is an established global leader in designing, launching, and executing large-scale competitions to solve humanity's greatest challenges. Our unique model democratizes innovation by incentivizing crowd-sourced, scientifically viable solutions to create a more equitable and abundant future for all. Donate, learn more, or join a team at xprize.org.


About the Musk Foundation


The Musk Foundation creates grants made in support of: renewable energy research and advocacy; human space exploration research and advocacy; pediatric research; science and engineering education; and development of safe artificial intelligence to benefit humanity. 


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kframe@brgcommunications.com 


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