03 Feb 2016
World innovation news
CO2 conversion: Your Innovation May Worth $20 Million!
XPRIZE seek CO2 conversion innovation to make useful products. The organization behind major technological challenges such as Race To Space, launched in 2004, and won by SpaceShipOne, launches this time a competition with ecology as the purpose.
At the end of September 2015, a few months before the COP 21, the XPRIZE Foundation reoriented towards climatic change, and greenhouse gas emissions. This time, the challenge is to transform carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) into marketable products.
Twenty million dollars in prizes will be distributed for this competition. Participants will have until 2020 to develop CO2 conversion technologies for CO2 produced by coal-fired power plants and natural gas-powered generators. Creators of breakthrough technologies that will succeed in transforming CO2 emissions into useful products, such as building material, alternative fuel, and other daily use objects, will win the challenge.
CO2 Conversion: A Now Active Research Area
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas naturally present in the atmosphere. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and other industrial processes, cause an increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, contributing to pollution and global warming. Although there already exists a remarkable technology in the development of carbon capture and storage, conversion solutions remain a challenge in the field of research.
Some researchers in the world did not wait for the XPRIZE challenge to embark in the development of advanced technologies.
Austrian researchers managed to convert CO2 into minerals and chemicals such as sodium carbonate, hydrochloric acid, and bleach. The main challenge in the conversion, however, is to reduce energy consumption.
Converting CO2 into useful products, and at the lowest cost, is an active area of research. Delaware University researchers have taken a different approach, with less expensive catalysts that use solar energy to convert CO2 into CO, which can then be used in a wide range of industrial applications, including liquid fuels.
University of Texas researchers, in Arlington, converted CO2 into liquid methanol using nanowires of copper oxide, and sunlight. Other researchers from the University of Georgia created a microorganism that thrives on CO2, and can then be stimulated to produce chemicals for fuels or plastics.
However, in spite of these technological breakthroughs, a lot of work remains to be done. The XPRIZE challenge can help turn solutions into innovations. Consequently, if you have ideas, you have until 2020 to develop them, which still constitutes little time for such a grand technological and human challenge.
The XPRIZE Organization
XPRIZE is an educational non-profit organization, with the mission to encourage radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. It develops and manages large-scale competitions, open to technical and scientific teams, with the objective of encouraging new technological developments. XPRIZE addresses the major challenges of the world by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentive prize contests that encourage investments in research and development. It motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital.
Darine Ameyed is a postdoctoral associate researcher at the ÉTS Synchromedia Laboratory. She is also scientific project manager at CIRODD.
Program : Automated Manufacturing Engineering
Research chair : Canada Research Chair in Smart Sustainable Eco-Cloud
Research laboratories : SYNCHROMEDIA – Multimedia Communication in Telepresence