Can we transform carbon into useful products, thereby reducing the impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) to our environment?
In theory, yes. Carbon is often called a building block of life as it can form stable bonds with many elements – so it serves as a good foundation.
But transform carbon into what?
How about vodka? Or greener concrete? Advanced material additives? Plastic?
Since 2015, teams from around the world have been taking their big ideas on what we can do with CO2 emissions from concept to reality. Incented by the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, innovators been accelerating the development of technologies that transform CO2 into valuable products.
All of that work is about to pay off on April 19, when we announce the two winners of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. Each winner will receive US$7.5 million to take their ideas to the next level.
Made in Canada carbon solutions
So, how does Canada’s oil and gas industry fit into this story? The world needs solutions to tackle climate change across multiple industries and borders. As innovation leaders, through COSIA, Canada’s oil sands industry including ConocoPhillips, Canadian Natural, CNOOC, Cenovus, Imperial Oil and Suncor, partnered with NRG Energy, a leading U.S. power company, and XPRIZE to become the founding sponsors of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE.
Oil and natural gas will continue to be a significant part of the global energy mix for the foreseeable future, so it’s important that we continue to make efforts to reduce our environmental impact.
Investing in environmental innovation isn’t new for the oil sands industry. We are a global leader in research and development, investing more than $9.3 billion since 2009. In fact, oil and natural gas companies are the largest funders of clean technology in Canada.
But the Canadian connection doesn’t stop there. Five of the 10 finalist teams have spent the last couple of years testing their technologies at the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC), a specially designed facility for innovators from around the world to test and advance carbon conversion technologies.
Following the completion of the Carbon XPRIZE competition, the ACCTC will continue as a test centre for new technology development in CO2 utilization. With its unique capabilities, the ACCTC is expected to become a global hub for innovators working on groundbreaking CO2 conversion technologies.
Lasting impacts of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE
Creating valuable uses for industrial and power sector CO2 emissions before they reach our atmosphere could positively transform the way CO2 emissions are addressed. This competition is already creating a clean energy path with enormous potential for tackling climate change.
Carbon has inherent value in our economy: the universe of potential products that can be made from recycled CO2 crosses a variety of energy applications, industrial processes and consumer products.
CO2 conversion is an important element of a broader decarbonization effort that also includes electrification, switching to low-carbon energy sources like renewables, improving energy efficiency, and increasing natural carbon sinks across agricultural lands, forests, coastal wetlands and other wild and managed ecosystems.
After the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE prize is awarded, utilities, energy producers and other industries will have access to new technological solutions that could reduce emissions through CO2 conversion and lower the cost of deploying cleaner energy globally.
So, can we transform the future by transforming carbon?
And the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE has proven how.