Elon Musk's Student Awards Gave $250 Thousand to Seaweed-Based Carbon Capture

With millions more in store for 22 more winning projects.
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Seaweed carbon capture project.XPRIZE/YouTube

Funded by Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk, Carbon Removal XPrize's $5 million out of the total $100 million prize money was awarded to 23 projects spanning from direct air capture systems to farming seaweed in old oil rigs.

The awards aim to inspire and encourage students who are focused on climate issues from all over the world. 195 teams from 44 countries competed with their projects in the Student Awards, targeting not only to capture carbon from the air but being able to store it for a minimum of 100 years.

Submissions of the competitors have involved details on the technologies they invented or ideas they came up with to convince a panel of judges on the scientific basis of their projects and that they have the know-how to execute their plans.

There were some interesting ideas among the competitors including directly capturing the carbon from the air and combining it with mine tailings for easy storage and turning biomass into a solution to prevent carbon emissions as the waste rots.

Blue Symbiosis, a competitor from the Tasmania University, aims to use the carbon dioxide-absorbing properties of seaweed to remove carbon from the atmosphere, restore oceans, and make use of the stored carbon by using the seaweed as construction material such as fire-resilient bricks. The project sets its eyes on the unused oil and gas rigs as farming sites to also help address a problem that is totaling up to 44 billion dollars for decommissioning the infrastructure.

Another competitor CyanoCapture from the University of Oxford has a plan to capture carbon for the long term by using a genetically modified bacteria called cyanobacteria that is expected to capture three times more carbon compared to normal bacteria.

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Out of the 23 teams that were selected as winners, five of them were granted $100 thousand dollars each on their measurement, reporting, and verification technologies. while the remaining 18 teams were awarded $250 thousand for their demonstrations of carbon removal, to develop their projects and technologies, and increase their competitive abilities in the next round of the competition.

With $95 million remaining in store, the main Carbon Removal XPrize competition is waiting for its champions. If you'd wish to participate, registrations are open until December 1st at the XPrize website.

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