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April 19, 2021

CarbonCure Technologies wins $20m global tech competition

Canadian carbon recycling company CarbonCure Technologies has ranked first in the international NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition, sharing the top prize with California-based UCLA CarbonBuilt, in a bid to boost Canada’s emerging carbon capture economy.

By Yoana Cholteeva

CarbonCure Technologies and UCLA CarbonBuilt competed in natural gas and coal tracks respectively, demonstrating the conversion of the most carbon dioxide into the highest value products in a 10-finalist cohort.

Each of the two companies won a grand prize of $7.5m, in addition to $500,000 awarded to each finalist earlier in the competition.

Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) co-sponsored the multi-year competition through a joint industry project led by COSIA member ConocoPhillips Canada, alongside other members such as Canadian Natural, Cenovus Energy, Imperial, Suncor, and non-member CNOOC.

Together, the members represent 90% of oil sands production and through COSIA they collaborate on clean technology innovation to improve the environmental performance of Canada’s oil sands.

COSIA chief executive Wes Jickling says: “The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE has proven that converting CO2 into everyday products can be a game-changing pathway in our broader efforts to reduce emissions. Through breakthrough technologies, we can tackle the major causes of climate change, create new economic opportunities, and build a bridge to a cleaner, abundant, and affordable energy future.

“We congratulate the teams and winners and are very proud of what’s been achieved. This is a shining example of the collaboration that’s required across industries and borders to address climate change while meeting global energy needs.”

The XPRIZE competition is an important step to progressing Canada’s carbon economy, which has considerable potential to become a new commercial industry, including through making products from carbon dioxide. The competition brought together some leading innovators working in this space and is estimated to have attracted $150m in additional funding for participants, including from Bill Gates, Amazon, and Shopify.

“Supporting this initiative is just one example of work underway in Canada’s oil sands to improve environmental performance. In fact, Canada’s oil and natural gas companies spend more on clean technology investments than all other industries combined, with 75% of the $1.4bn invested annually in Canada coming from our oil and natural gas industry,” Jickling says.

An important legacy of the competition is the Calgary-based Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC), a testing facility that was purpose-built for Carbon XPRIZE competitors in the natural gas track.

The ACCTC is now open to innovators from anywhere in the world, looking to advance carbon capture and become a global hub for ground-breaking innovation that addresses the climate-related risks of excess carbon dioxide emissions.

Other teams in the competition, administered by the US-based XPRIZE Foundation, have advanced technologies that can address climate change by converting carbon dioxide emissions into products like environmentally friendly concrete, plastics, and even vodka.

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