A $20 million international competition to make profitable products from a gas that otherwise would contribute to global warming has entered its final stretch.
The 10 finalists in the contest sponsored by a U.S. energy company and a group of Canadian oil sands producers have shown in a lab they can use carbon dioxide from power plants to potentially turn a profit making everything from concrete to methanol, an alcohol used in a range of products.
The finalists announced Monday — from India, China, Scotland, Canada and the U.S. — will collect $5 million in prize money, or $500,000 apiece.
The teams also get the chance to put their ideas to work using much larger volumes of CO2 obtained from actual power plant emissions. The 1 metric ton of CO2 they will need to use daily is 10 times more than they had to demonstrate in a lab.
A ton is still only about 1 percent of a power plant’s daily output of CO2. But the competition is more about inspiring than immediate solutions to climate change, said Marcius Extavour, senior director of energy and resources for the XPRIZE Foundation organizing the contest.