By Stan Paul
An interdisciplinary team of UCLA researchers has advanced to the semifinal round of a global competition to reduce greenhouse gases through groundbreaking scientific and technological innovation.
The UCLA team, Carbon Upcycling — representing a campuswide collaboration of chemistry, biochemistry, materials science, economics, public policy and engineering (mechanical, civil and environmental) researchers — is among 27 teams moving one step closer to a share of the $20-million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE.
“Advancing to the next round of the Carbon XPRIZE confirms the potential of our carbon upcycling technology, and further motivates the team toward its end goal, that is the realization of a carbon-neutral cementation solution at scale,” said Gaurav Sant, one of five UCLA faculty members leading the 13-member team. Sant is an associate professor and Henry Samueli Fellow in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.
J.R. DeShazo, director of the Luskin Center for Innovation and a professor of Public Policy in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, is one of the leaders of the project. “The XPRIZE competition not only inspires innovation, but also provides an opportunity to showcase the talent at UCLA and the incredible power of collaboration,” DeShazo said. “We look forward to the next stage of discovery and development.”
The competition, which was launched in 2015, “addresses global CO2 emissions by incentivizing innovative solutions to convert CO2 from a liability into an asset,” according to a Carbon XPRIZE press release announcing the selection of teams moving forward in the competition.
Carbon Upcycling uses CO2 emissions from power plants and turns them into a replacement material for cement called CO2NCRETE. Common concrete, which is produced in countries around the globe, is responsible for nearly 5 percent of emissions worldwide. The UCLA team is among six teams vying in both competition tracks: Track A — coal, and Track B — natural gas. Other semifinal teams from the United States, Canada, China, India, Switzerland and Scotland have focused on turning the climate-changing gas into products ranging from toothpaste to fish food.
According to the Carbon XPRIZE announcement, the semifinals will work as follows:
- Teams will demonstrate their innovative technology at pilot scale at a location of their own choosing, using either real flue gas or simulated flue gas stream.
- Over a 10-month period, teams must meet minimum requirements and will be scored on how much CO2 they convert and the net value of their products.
- Following judging scheduled for November and December 2017, up to five teams in each track that score the highest will share a $2.5-million milestone purse and move onto the finals of the competition, demonstrating their technology at real-world power plants.
Read the full Carbon XPRIZE release online at:
For more information about the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, visit carbon.xprize.org
For more information about UCLA Carbon Upcycling team, please visit: http://www.co2upcycling.com/members/
Read the earlier UCLA story: http://luskin.ucla.edu/2016/03/14/carbon-upcycling-turning-co2-into-a-new-sustainable-co2ncrete/