Elon Musk

Tesla & SpaceX CEO Elon Musk $100M Donation for Carbon Removal Competition: A Closer Look

Tesla & SpaceX CEO Elon Musk $100M Donation for Carbon Removal Competition: A Closer Look

Image: Xprize Foundation

The Carbon Removal Competition, organized by the Xprize Foundation and funded by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, started on February 8. Musk's main goal is to fund a project that can effectively--and as cheaply as possible--remove CO₂ from the atmosphere, which will help in the fight against climate change.

In 18 months, the judges will choose the 15 best teams and the best projects. Each of them will receive $1 million. At the same time, $200,000 scholarships will be awarded to 25 separate student teams who enter. The top three teams will receive $10 million, $20 million and $50 million for the third-, second-place and grand prize winners, respectively. The competition will last four years, and the winners will be announced in 2025.

However, it will be very difficult to get this money. According to the rules of the competition, in order to win, teams will have to develop a technology that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans and lock it away permanently in an environmentally benign way. To win the top prizes, teams will have to demonstrate a method to capture 1 tonne of CO₂ per day at the lowest cost, while proving to judges that the technology can be scaled up to remove as much as 1 billion tons a year.

Judges in the competition will evaluate the teams based upon four basic criteria:

  • A working carbon removal prototype that can be rigorously validated and capable of removing at least 1 ton per day.
  • The team's ability to demonstrate to the judges that their solution can economically scale to the gigaton level.
  • The main metric for this competition is fully considered cost per ton, inclusive of whatever considerations are necessary for environmental benefit, permanence, any value-added products; and
  • The final criteria is the length of time that the removed carbon is locked up for. A minimum goal of 100 years is desired.

“The world's leading scientists estimate that we may need to remove as much as 6 gigatons of CO₂ per year by 2030, and 10 gigatons per year by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” the XPrize page states. “We need bold, radical tech innovation and scale up that goes beyond limiting CO₂ emissions, but actually removes CO₂ already in the air and oceans. If humanity continues on a business-as-usual path, the global average temperature could increase 6˚(C) by the year 2100. "

CO₂ is one of the gases that creates the greenhouse effect, the second after water vapor. And CO₂ is the main gas whose atmospheric concentration is influenced by humans, as proven by isotopic analysis. The rise in the level of CO₂ in the atmosphere is leading our planet to critical and unpredictable climate change, which is why this problem must be resolved as soon as possible.

In an effort to improve this situation, Musk began developing products that could reduce CO₂ emissions on our planet. Having made an all-in bet, he created Tesla, a company whose mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy, which should lead us to a dramatic reduction in CO₂ emissions into the atmosphere.

In an effort to continue developing the idea of ​​improving the climate situation on Earth, in January 2021 Musk announced that he will donate $ 100M as a prize for the best carbon capture technology.

© 2021, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.


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Article edited by @SmokeyShorts, you can follow him on Twitter

About the Author

Eva Fox

Eva Fox

Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.

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