$20 Million Carbon XPrize Contest Takes on Climate Change

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By James Eng

Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have long been recognized as one of the major drivers of climate change. A new competition is offering $20 million in total prize money to teams that can find ways to turn those carbon emissions into something useful, instead of treating them as pure waste.

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize, announced Tuesday, aims to accelerate the development and real-world adoption of new and emerging CO2 conversion technologies. The prize is being funded by U.S.-based energy company NRG Energy and Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), an industry group.

Related: China to Launch Carbon Emissions Market in 2017, Official Says

"Emissions are an exponentially growing, global problem — a problem that won’t be solved by any single technology," Paul Bunje, principal and senior scientist for energy and environment at XPRIZE, the non-profit group managing the competition, said in a statement. "We need every solution we can find, including not just continued incremental improvements, but radical new breakthroughs."

The competition will be divided into two tracks — one focused on testing technologies at a coal power plant, the other at a natural gas power plant. Teams will compete in three rounds for a total prize purse of $20 million.

The winning team will be the one that converts the most CO2 emissions into the highest-value products.

More details of the competition can be found at http://carbon.xprize.org/