Elon Musk launches CO2 competition – prize money: $ 100 million

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The SpaceX owner is looking for a new way to capture carbon. The prize money is the highest ever that has been awarded for it.

The richest person on the planet is looking for a more efficient way to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Elon Musk plans to publish further details next week on how the competition should be designed. The billionaire praises 100 million US dollars for the best solution. A similar one Competition called the foundation X-Prize in which Elon Musk is also sitting. $ 20 million went to the finalists.

Corresponding methods already exist, for example to bind CO2 from the combustion process of coal-fired power plants. In addition to the unsolved problem of groundwater hazardous disposal, the energy consumption is very high. Corresponding experimental power plants consume up to 30 percent more coal to convert around 70 percent of the CO2 emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculated in 2005 that negative emissions are needed to keep global warming at 1.5 to 2 degrees. This means the active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. At least since then, research efforts in this sector have risen sharply.

Elon Musk, a weak philanthropist

The media cites Musk’s offering as his greatest philanthropic investment. Compared to other super-rich, Elon Musk has a poor record of charitable giving. The sum now offered is ten times as high as his highest donation outside of his foundation to date. Overall should Musk $ 257 million for various projects. That corresponds to 1.3 per thousand of his assets of an estimated 188.53 billion dollars. Musk participates in Bill Gates and Waren Buffet’s The Giving Pledge campaign, pledging to donate half of his fortune.

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Does the competition have a commercial background?

The Tesla boss has already announced several times that he wants to colonize Mars. His space company SpaceX should help him with this. There is no breathable atmosphere on the planet, instead it consists of 96 percent CO2. If SpaceX succeeds in breaking this compound into carbon and hydrogen, the company could use it to solve several problems at once: carbon as the basis of the material and breathing air, which would otherwise have to be laboriously transported from the earth. Musk plans to build a colony with other empires on Mars.

Re-use as fuel or diamond

Should science – with or without Musk’s help – succeed in making carbon capture more efficient, there are already a number of approaches to further use. So there is the possibility about synthetic diamonds or Making vodka. Recently, a group explored a method of synthesizing jet fuel in this way.

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