SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is putting $100 million into a different kind of “X”: An XPRIZE competition to develop new technologies for sucking carbon dioxide out of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.
Musk and his foundation will provide the prize money for XPRIZE Carbon Removal, an incentive-based competition that’ll be open to teams around the world.
Teams will be required to create pilot systems capable of removing 1 ton of carbon dioxide per day, and show that their systems can be scaled up economically to the gigaton level.
Reducing CO2 is considered a key requirement for heading off the worst effects of the greenhouse effect and climate change. Total annual emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide currently amount to about 33 gigatons. The long-term goal for the XPRIZE teams should be to contribute to removing 10 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2050.
In today’s news release, Musk said XPRIZE Carbon Removal “is not a theoretical competition.”
“We want to make a truly meaningful impact,” he said. “Carbon negativity, not neutrality. The ultimate goal is scalable carbon extraction that is measured based on the ‘fully considered cost per ton,’ which incudes the environmental impact.”