The world is looking for ways to drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and oil sands producers are among those who have made ambitious commitments to achieve net zero, or near net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.
There are many pathways to get there and one with great promise is carbon utilization.
A study commissioned by the University of Michigan’s Global CO2 Initiative and carried out by McKinsey in 2016 estimated that CO2 utilization could reduce global CO2 emissions by 15 per cent by 2030.
How can carbon be used?
Our NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE has proven that converting CO2 into everyday products can be a game-changing pathway in our broader emissions reduction efforts. This ground-breaking initiative has enabled development of technologies that can address climate change by converting CO2 emissions into products like environmentally friendly concrete, plastics and even vodka.
Winners of the Carbon XPRIZE were announced on April 19, 2021. CarbonCure based in Dartmouth, NS captured the US$7.5 million prize in the natural gas track, and CarbonBuilt from Los Angeles, CA won the equivalent prize in the coal track. CarbonCure’s technology is already reducing CO2 and water intensity in concrete, with their technology now in-market and installed at over 300 concrete plants worldwide; CarbonBuilt is preparing for commercialization, with the ability to process raw industrial emissions directly, not just purified CO2.
Following the Carbon XPRIZE, utilities, energy producers and other industries will now have access to multiple technological solutions that could help reduce emissions through CO2 conversion and lower the cost of deploying cleaner energy globally.
An added legacy of the competition is the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC), a unique facility, constructed as part of the Carbon XPRIZE, to develop and commercialize CO2 utilization and conversion technologies. The world-class ACCTC, operated in partnership with the Alberta and Canadian governments, is now open to innovators from around the world looking to advance carbon utilization technologies.
Carbon utilization – good for the economy
Carbon utilization doesn’t just make good environmental sense. It makes good business sense too.
Many CO2 conversion technologies are still in the early stages of development. More research and technology testing, funding support and new policy development, along with the necessary infrastructure will be needed to deploy many of them commercially.
That said, the XPRIZE Foundation has quantified the economic opportunity of transforming carbon into products as a nearly US$6-trillion opportunity, so the potential and future possibilities are strong. We’ve already seen some of the technologies that have progressed through this competition – like CarbonCure’s – move to commercialization.
As an offshoot of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the XPRIZE Foundation launched the Circular Carbon Network (circularcarbon.org) to continue to grow the circular carbon economy after the competition. This free, online database will accelerate the growth of this clean tech sector by helping to connect a global community of innovators who are working to transform waste carbon dioxide into a valuable asset for society.
“We are incredibly proud of the role our NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE has played in demonstrating that, with breakthrough technologies like these, it is possible to address climate change while also building a bridge to a cleaner, abundant and affordable energy future. The materials and technologies advanced through our NRG COSIA Carbon XPPRIZE can be a key part of meeting net zero goals,” says Wes Jickling, COSIA’s Chief Executive.