Canadian Manufacturing

Oilsands partners with NRG to create $20M cleantech competition

Producers go greener, sponsoring contest aimed at finding uses for carbon emissions

AUSTIN, Texas—As oil prices languish, the Canadian oilsands may be changing gears.

Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance and NRG Energy, an American electricity generator and distributor, have partnered to create a $20 million competition aimed at developing technologies that address CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE challenges entrants to develop breakthrough technologies that convert the most CO2 into one or more products with the highest net value. The competition will include two tracks, one that will see the technologies tested at a coal power plant, and another that will test technologies at a natural gas facility.

“We are living in an age of unprecedented technological progress and prosperity driven by energy,” XPRIZE chairman and CEO, Peter Diamandis, said. “Yet, most of this energy comes from burning fossil fuels, a leading contributor to climate change. We are embarking on one urgent step in XPRIZE’s energy roadmap of incentivizing a clean and positive energy future that addresses a suite of Grand Challenges.”

With rising energy demand, both renewable energy and carbon mitigation solutions are expected to experience strong growth in the coming decades.

“As CO2 emissions from fossil fuels continue to be a leading contributor to climate change, the Carbon XPRIZE will address global CO2 emissions by incentivizing solutions to convert CO2 from a liability into an asset,” COSIA, an organization made up of 13 oilsands producers, said.

The organization said the Carbon XPRIZE will incentivize breakthrough technologies that convert CO2 into a product or suite of products such as: alternative cement, concrete, and other building materials; chemicals used to manufacture a variety of industrial and consumer goods; low-carbon transportation fuels; and possibly new products altogether.

“Carbon is a unique challenge in that as we move toward a low to zero-emission future, we’ll need to continue using fossil fuels to meet current energy demands,” Sicily Dickenson, chief marketing officer at NRG, said. “We’re using the highly effective XPRIZE process to engage the world’s brightest minds to find a solution that helps solve emissions problems, and simultaneously creates viable products that we use every day.”

To evaluate entries, XPRIZE will enlist the help of a judging panel, as well as appoint a third-party Scientific Advisory Board to advise on a variety of approaches to CO2 conversion.

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