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$25 Million for Capturing Carbon Answered

Gore and Branson have teamed up to sponsor an X-prize-like competition for capturing carbon dioxide. I love these types of competitions. Is anyone here on Instructables in a position to enter? With a bit of industry-sponsorship, this would make for a series of fantastic Ph.D projects.

From: http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070205/full/070205-16.html

A multi-million dollar prize is on offer to anyone who can invent a device that will remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As one of the largest science prizes on offer, it is likely to attract huge interest globally in a bid to combat climate change.

The initiative was launched today by British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and former US Vice-President Al Gore in London.

The US$25 million "Virgin Earth Challenge" Prize can be claimed for any invention that will remove "significant" amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - perhaps in the order of a billion tonnes a year. Current global emissions are more than 7 billion tonnes per year.

"The winner must be able to demonstrate a commercially viable design which will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric, greenhouse gases each year for at least ten years without countervailing harmful effects," state the written rules of the competition. It must "contribute materially to the stability of the Earth's climate".

The winning entry could be anything from manufacturing bacteria to install in industrial emissions pipes, to creating a system that buries CO2 underground, or even inventing artificial trees to breathe in the gas from the air.

10 Replies

Weissensteinburg (author)2007-02-12

Ive had an idea...i be a thousand others will have the same one and it wont work so well....but its an idea. I cant tell you though...that $25 million is MINE! :D

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Does it involve.... trees? :P I wonder what species of plant is most efficient at consuming CO2.... Just curious :P

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fungus amungus (author)ewilhelm2007-02-13

I remember reading about this a little while ago. Algae filtration systems for power plants. From the minds at MIT.

Article and company website

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So what is considered "significant" in terms of CO2 tonnage? They do want to net less CO2 in the atmosphere... so this seems like a god step. I'd think running more filters in parallel would increase efficiency - of course, there's likely more too it than strap on another tank :P

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You need to think back to biology class. There are multiple kinds of photosynthesis. The kind that grows fastest is c4, because its receptors have a 4% accuracy rate, algae is c3,many kinds of bamboo is c4. the more chlorophyll there is, the more co2 they consume.

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Hyperviking (author)trebuchet032007-02-13

OH! if you're going to use a macrophyte (large plant) make sure it does well in your area. Search for your city and the word "invasive" and you'll probably get a good list. In Chicago, best bet is prolly buckthorn/phragmites.

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Hyperviking (author)trebuchet032007-02-13

Start looking at really opportunistic species, typha (cattails), phragmites (common reed), buckthorn, ailanthus, kudzu, anything that grows really fast is gonna consume lots of carbon.

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trebuchet03 (author)2007-02-12

You know what's funny..... he (Branson) hinted about something like this on the Daily Show shortly after Rattan's the X-prize success.

Stewart: "What about this: putting up a prize for somebody to invent something to get us off the internal combustion engine? What do you think of that? Get uh, like an X prize type of thing like they did with space travel."

Branson: "Hmmm."

Stewart: "What do you think of that?"

Branson: "That makes a lot of sense."

Stewart: "It does?"

Branson laughs.

Stewart: "How 'bout giving me some seed money?"

Branson: (leans back...) "Um. Okay."

Stewart: "What do you think of that? You could set this thing up, and people could..it'd be like a private industry thing. There's gotta be a way. I mean, we can fake diamonds."

Branson: "Um hmmm."

Stewart: "There's gotta be a way we can make fake oil or something. You know what I'm saying? It's just carbon for god's sakes."

Branson: "Water."

Stewart: "Water? An engine that runs on water? Set up a prize!"

Branson: "Well I've just given you the answer. So I want the money."

Stewart: "Or you're gonna do it?"

Branson: "No..WATER?"

Stewart: "Cars run on water?"

Branson: "Yeah. They could do."

Stewart: "What on hydroelectric cells or something?"

Branson: "Something like that. I don't know. I'm trying to get my money back."

Stewart: "I'm telling you something. This could be a great thing."

Branson: "Okay."

Stewart: "Seed money."

Branson: "Alright. Would everybody chip in here?"

Stewart: "YOUR the billionaire!"

Branson: "Alright."

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westfw (author)2007-02-12

I had this interesting "vision" of solving the CO2 issue by increasing usage of carbon fiber composites for construction/etc... I guess all I need to do is design a machine that breathes CO2 and poops carbon fiber... :-)

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