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article imageTen teams advance in international carbon dioxide competition

By Karen Graham     Apr 11, 2018 in Technology
A $20 million international competition to make profitable products from carbon dioxide that otherwise would contribute to global warming has entered its final stretch.
The contest is sponsored by NGR Energy Inc., a large American energy company, dual-headquartered in New Jersey, and Houston, Texas and Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance COSIA), a group of oil sands producers focused on accelerating the pace of improvement in environmental performance in Canada's oil sands through collaborative action and innovation.
The 10 finalists have shown in a laboratory they can use carbon dioxide from power plants to potentially turn a profit, making everything from methanol to concrete and even alcohol used in a range of products.
The finalists were announced on Monday, and include teams from India, China, Scotland, Canada and the U.S. The teams will share $5 million in prize money or $500,000 each.
In the final leg of the competition, the teams will get to put their ideas to work away from the lab bench, working on much larger volumes of carbon dioxide obtained from actual power plant emissions. They will be using one metric ton of CO2 daily, 10 times what they were using in the laboratory.
In 2016  humanity emitted the equivalent of 52 billion tonnes -- or gigatonnes -- of CO2 (52GtCO2e) ...
In 2016, humanity emitted the equivalent of 52 billion tonnes -- or gigatonnes -- of CO2 (52GtCO2e), including other gases such as methane
LIONEL BONAVENTURE, AFP/File
While one metric ton of Co2 is only about one percent of a power plant's daily output, the purpose of the competition is to inspire solutions to climate change, said Marcius Extavour, senior director of energy and resources for the XPRIZE Foundation organizing the contest, reports Oil&Gas 360.
“It’s about opening people’s minds and really demonstrating what is possible,” Extavour said.
The finalists will be divided into two groups to work with the actual flue gases, with five teams going to a Wyoming coal-fired power plant and the other five teams competing at a gas-fired power plant in Alberta, Canada.
Beginning this summer, the teams will be given a year to practice at the respective plants before data collection for the competition begins. The two winners, one at each site, will each collect a $7.5 million grand prize.
The reason the competition has two tracks has to do with chemistry. According to the Associated Press, carbon dioxide concentrations at the Dry Fork Station coal-fired power plant near Gillette, Wyoming are almost double the CO2 concentrations at the Shepard Energy Centre gas-fired power plant in Calgary, Alberta.
The Dry Fork Station is a coal-based electric generation power plant located in Wyoming.
The Dry Fork Station is a coal-based electric generation power plant located in Wyoming.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative
The finalists include C2CNT, a team from Ashburn, Virginia, making carbon nanotubes, and CarbonCure, of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, which already has been using carbon dioxide on a commercial scale to chemically create limestone in concrete.
Jennifer Wagner, CarbonCure’s XPRIZE team leader, said, “We know the technology works. We know there is an environmental benefit and an economic benefit to the concrete producers. What we need to show for the purposes of the XPRIZE is that technology can score the highest.”
XPRIZE is an organizer of technological innovation contests including one that awarded $10 million for the first private organization to launch a manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE is a part of XPRIZE’s growing portfolio of Energy and Resources prizes and long-term vision for accelerating revolutionary energy technologies to help move the world towards a clean, abundant energy future.
More about Xprize, international CO2 competition, oil sands producers, NRG Energy, Innovation
 
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