An Oklahoma startup created a mere three months ago by University of Oklahoma current and former students was one of the winners of Elon Musk’s Musk Foundation XPrize $5 Million Carbon Removal Student Competition.
Steve Adams, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and current Ph.D. student, launched Bison Underground this summer along with other student geologists, engineers, microbiologists and environmental scientists to address climate issues. As part of the competition for the XPrize, the team created a blueprint for an invention that will not only remove carbon from the atmosphere, but restore agricultural soil quality by redistributing carbon into farmland to enhance agricultural quality and yields.
“We were interested in carbon and how to solve issues of having an excess amount of carbon in the atmosphere ,Over the years, I’ve been trying to wrestle with that problem, and we believe we have a solution on how to take that excess amount of carbon in the atmosphere and put it into agricultural soils.”
That idea won in the award program, which is part of the $100 Million XPrize for Carbon Removal supported by the Musk Foundation. The XPrize was launched to fund early-stage concepts from the next generation of carbon removal innovators and to remove barriers to entry for those interested in the main $100 million competition, making the XPrize the largest incentive prize in history.
Bison Underground joined 23 winning teams that will split the $5 million prize. With $250,000, Bison Underground will begin to design and test its prototype over the next year while also searching for additional funding.
“When they announced it on Nov. 10, I was convinced there must be a mistake or something. I read the email about 10 times,” Adams said.
“We think carbon removal will be a major part of the economic future, especially in Oklahoma, going forward. We are developing questions focused on helping farmers. Farmers need carbon in the soil, and that large amount of carbon in soil is crucial to that transition.”
Bison Underground received mentorship from the Tom Love Innovation Hub at the University of Oklahoma, including through its OK Catalyst Roadmap and Start-Hub programs, as well as the OU School of Geosciences in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy.
“As a geologist, I know how much untapped potential there is in soils when it comes to pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. As someone with family history in farming, I also know how enhancing soil quality can improve agricultural productivity and help ensure that farmers stay in business and that everyone has access to fresh produce,”
“And as a veteran and first-generation college student, I know how catalytic investments like the XPrize can enable people from a range of backgrounds to be at the forefront of innovation to solve the world’s most dire problems.”
Agricultural soils provide an enormous reservoir for carbon, he said, but many conventional farming practices erode soil and release carbon back to the atmosphere.
“An agricultural transition to regenerative practices will ultimately promote crop diversity, healthy produce and food security for all”
In order to be eligible for the Carbon Removal Student Competition, student teams needed at least 50% of their members to be currently enrolled in an educational institution with the support of an academic adviser or business leader able to act as a formal mentor. All submissions were reviewed by a panel of expert third-party judges who considered the innovation, ability to reach gigaton scale, team resources and capabilities as well as project plan feasibility in their selection process.
XPRIZE Carbon Removal is aimed at tackling the biggest threat facing humanity – fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle. Funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation, this $ 100M competition is the largest incentive prize in history, an extraordinary milestone.
The climate math is becoming clear that we will need gigaton-scale carbon removal in the coming decades to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates the need at approximately 10 gigatonnes of net CO2 removal per year by the year 2050 in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 or 2C. As governments, companies, investors, and entrepreneurs make plans to meet this challenge, it is clear that we will need a range of carbon removal solutions to be proven through demonstration and deployment to complement work that is already underway. If humanity continues on a business-as-usual path, the global average temperature could increase 6˚ (C) by the year 2100.
This four-year global competition invites innovators and teams from anywhere on the planet to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans, and sequester it durably and sustainably. To win the grand prize, teams must demonstrate a working solution at a scale of at least 1000 tonnes removed per year; model their costs at a scale of 1 million tonnes per year; and show a pathway to achieving a scale of gigatonnes per year in future.
Any carbon negative solution is eligible: nature-based, direct air capture, oceans, mineralization, or anything else that achieves net negative emissions, sequesters CO2 durably, and show a sustainable path to achieving low cost at gigatonne scale.
“Thank you to our early innovators, and sponsors, who knew Carbon Removal would become an XPRIZE: Chuck Brady, Jeff Holden, Tylee Potter, Jon Vein, Paresh Ghelani, Eric Hirshberg, Dave Asprey, Thomas Ermacora, Ryan Duffy, Harry Kloor and Thomas Middleditch.
source : journalrecord , xprize
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