Two startups cutting emissions from the use of concrete have won the $20 million Carbon Xprize.
Launched in 2015, the award was created by U.S. power company NRG and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance to incentivize the development of technologies that can capture carbon dioxide and put it to valuable use. A total of 48 teams entered, with nine reaching the final round to showcase their technology working at a pilot scale.
The two grand-prize winners, Alberta-based CarbonCure Technologies Inc. and California-based CarbonBuilt Inc., will receive $7.5 million each. CarbonCure injects CO₂ into concrete as it hardens, cutting the product’s footprint. It also reduces water usage. CarbonBuilt makes use of CO₂ coming directly from the exhaust of a power plant or factor and cuts the use of cement to make the end product.
CarbonCure is already operating at commercial scale while CarbonBuilt is working toward it. Two other prizes will be awarded to Canada-based startups Carbon Upcycling-NLT and Carbon Corp. for technologies that make carbon nanoparticles for use in building applications and carbon nanotubes for use in industrial applications, respectively.
Next up, the Xprize Foundation will open up entries for carbon-removal technologies on April 22, which is Earth Day. The $100 million award will be backed by the Musk Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Three prize winners receiving $50 million, $20 million, and $10 million will be announced on the same day in 2025.
Given the delays in cutting emissions over the past few decades, scientists are increasingly certain that carbon-capture technologies will be needed to reach global climate goals. These technologies fall in two categories: trapping emissions from concentrated sources like power plants or factories and taking out the greenhouse gas directly from the atmosphere.
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