The X Prize Carbon Removal is a $100 million global competition aimed at tackling climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle. Funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation, this competition is the largest incentive prize in history. The competition seeks to incentivize the development of carbon removal solutions that can achieve net negative emissions, including nature-based, direct air capture, ocean-based, mineralization, and other approaches. The goal is to develop efficient solutions that can collectively achieve the 10-gigaton-per-year carbon removal target by 2050.
The XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition will run for four years, from April 22, 2021 (Earth Day) to Earth Day 2025. The grand prize winner must demonstrate that their innovation is capable of removing 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere or oceans and storing it in a safe, cost-effective way.
Carbon mineralization is the process of converting CO₂ into a solid carbonate mineral in order to sequester carbon permanently. Certain rocks, like olivine or basalt, undergo carbon mineralization when exposed to CO₂ and water. Carbon mineralization occurs naturally over hundreds or thousands of years. Enhanced weathering technologies aim to accelerate the natural carbon mineralization process and make it more efficient for carbon capture, storage, and utilization, which can be scaled up to mitigate climate change impacts.
In this article, we introduce three XPRIZE Carbon Removal companies who specialize in enhanced weathering technology.
44.01, a company founded in the United Kingdom in 2020, has developed a technology for permanently removing CO₂ from the atmosphere by mineralizing it in peridotite rock. By injecting CO₂-saturated water into an underground peridotite layer, the technology shortens the peridotite CO₂ mineralization process to 12 months. Once CO₂ has been mineralized, there is no need for high-pressure underground storage or risk of leaks. Peridotite is abundant across America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia, making the solution scalable.
Arca (formerly Carbin Minerals), a Canadian cleantech startup founded in 2021, develops a carbon mineralization technology that uses high-intensity bursts of energy to convert peridotite rocks into caustic magnesia (MgO) sorbent material for enhanced weathering process that captures and sequesters CO₂ from the air. The company collaborates with mining companies to help them quantify, maximize, and commercialize the carbon sequestration potential of their mining byproducts, thereby transforming mine waste into a valuable resource and climate solution.
Silicate Carbon (Silicate), an Irish climate tech company founded in 2022, has used recycled concrete as soil additives to permanently remove CO₂ from the atmosphere by enhancing the weathering process. Compared to other carbon removal soil additives, such as basalt and olivine, recycled concrete also reduces carbon emissions by requiring less energy for transport and processing. Silicate has demonstrated that the recycled concrete as soil additive is hardly harmful to soil chemistry, even beneficial to soil pH and a valuable source of base cation fertilization.
What do you think about the technologies of the above companies for carbon removal? Do you know any other promising carbon removal tech startups?