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πŸ† XPRIZE is the host for Elon Musk's $100 million gigaton carbon removal competition

πŸ† XPRIZE is the host for Elon Musk's $100 million gigaton carbon removal competition

We need to remove as much as six gigatons of CO2 per year by 2030, and the goal of this competition is to find a scalable solution for that. We have the answer to why Musk choose XPRIZE for his $100 million prize, and the background of this organization that started with a prize about space.

Mathias Sundin
Mathias Sundin

Like we here at Warp News predicted the XPRIZE Foundation is the host for Elon Musk's 100 million dollar carbon removal competition.

The competition spans four years and the winner must demonstrate a solution that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and is scalable to a gigaton level.

The reason to do this is of course climate change. We need to remove as much as six gigatons of CO2 per year by 2030, and ten gigatons per year by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change, according to XPRIZE that cites leading scientists.

Why a prize competition?

Prize competitions are a smart way to push innovation forward cost-effectively. When Charles Lindbergh in 1927 flew over the Atlantic from New York to Paris is was to win $25,000 in the Orteig Prize.

Raymond Orteig launched the prize in 1919 to push innovation in aviation forward and make Atlantic flights possible.

The beauty of prize competitions is that you get a lot of bang for the buck. The Orteig Prize was $25,000 but the teams competing invested 16 times as much in the different solutions.

XPRIZE started with the first private spaceflight

It was the Orteig Prize that inspired Peter Diamandis to launch the XPRIZE back in the 1990s. He wanted to push innovation in private space flight forward and launched a $10 million prize to the team that successfully flew a privately funded and built spacecraft to space and back.

The competition was won in 2004 by Scaled Composites sponsored by Paul Allen.

Since then XPRIZE has launched several competitions in many different areas.

The winning spaceraft of Ansari XPRIZE, SpaceShip One, now hangs in the Smithsonian next to Lindberg's The Spirit of St. Louis.

Why did Musk choose XPRIZE for this competition?

Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis go way back to the early 2000s. Obviously they are both space geeks and share the same mission of advancing humanity in space.

XPRIZE is the foremost prize competition creators in the world. I've been involved in a minor way a couple of years attending their XPRIZE Visioneers, where a group of people and I have helped pick future competitions. It is a very impressive organization.

Musk has already sponsored a $15 million XPRIZE on education, that was awarded last year.

Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis.

You and everyone else can join - here are the criteria

The competition is open to everyone. And like with Charles Lindbergh you don't have to be a big established player to compete and win.

  • 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.

This is how Elon Musk describe the criteria to win:

This is how the $100 million will be awarded

After 18 months the 15 top teams selected will receive $1 million each.

In the same timeframe, a total of twenty-five $200,000 student scholarships will be distributed to student teams competing.

The ultimate winner will receive $50 million, with $20 million for second place and $10 million for third place.