Elon Musk bankrolling $100 million Carbon Capture contest

The world richest person is using part of his vast wealth to fight the proliferation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The electric-auto mogul has announced his plan to set up a competition that will focus on how contestants plan to implement carbon capture tech.

This falls nicely in line with Musk’s stated objective for making electric vehicles: to reduce the rate of carbon-dioxide emission into the atmosphere. Total prize money is an impressive $100 million.

The competition is open to tech inclined participants from all over the world. Fifteen teams will make it into the competition proper. They are guaranteed $1 million each, with 25 of $200,000-scholarships also up for grabs for competing student teams. The first place prize is $50 million, while second and third placed teams will get $20 million and $10 million respectively.

To win all that money, Musk wants the teams to demonstrate a method that will extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and oceans and store it away without any negative impact on the environment. The method must be able to scale up to gigatons.

Entries are welcome from April 22, which falls on Earth Day. The contest will be overseen by the Xprize Foundation, a non-profit organization known for arranging tech competitions focusing on space travel, health technology, etc.

Musk has assured us that this is a real problem solving competition, not just an exercise in intellectual thinking.

“We want to make a truly meaningful impact. Carbon negativity, not neutrality,” Musk said. “This is not a theoretical competition; we want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level. Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence.”

Carbon capture as a technology already exists, although on a limited scale. Oil companies use it to purify the air in some of their production facilities.

Xprize Foundation expects the contestants to focus on air, land, oceans and rocks as they try to come up with solutions. Start-ups already involved in some form of carbon capture include Carbon Engineering in Canada, Climeworks in Switzerland and Global Thermostats in the US.

This contest might trigger a wave of new start-ups jumping into the carbon capture scene, which will be pleasing to Marcius Extavour, Xprize’s executive director of environment, who said “It’s not two or three solutions or a handful of companies, it’s probably a handful of solution types and dozens or hundreds of different efforts that we need. We need a whole industry doing carbon removal.”

Written by D.O. for www.ShargeMe.blog