Monash students’ carbon capture solution wins $US250,000 XPRIZE

The Monash Carbon Capture and Conversion student team.
The Monash Carbon Capture and Conversion student team. Image courtesy of Monash University.

A Monash University student team has been awarded $US250,000 ($340,000) as one of the winners of the XPRIZE Carbon Removal Student Competition, sponsored by Elon Musk and the XPRIZE Foundation.

The competition recognises student teams for their ability to tackle climate change by developing new technical solutions around atmospheric carbon capture and conversion.

The Monash Carbon Capture and Conversion (MC³) student team was one of 23 global teams who took out the Carbon Removal Student Competition and was awarded $US250,000 from a total of $US5 million available to competing teams.

The $US5 million award program is part of the $US100 Million XPRIZE for Carbon Removal, a four-year global competition that 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.

To win the grand prize, teams had to 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, as validated by a third party.

The Monash team’s winning XPRIZE proposal consists of novel biologically based carbon capture and conversion technologies. The proposal uses artificial forestry and microalgae cultures as carbon capture methods and the biomass produced will be transformed into cross-laminated timber (for the construction of sustainable buildings) and biochar (soil amendment) for durable sequestration.

This undergraduate-led student design team draws Monash students from across the Engineering, Science, Business, Humanities disciplines and from its Malaysia campus.

The idea for the proposal arose at a session organised by the Woodside-Monash Energy Partnership, and was developed by a Monash Industry Team Initiative.

Assistant Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Tim Wilson congratulated the team on winning this prize.

“This is a fantastic recognition of a team of Australian university students competing on the world stage,” Assistant Minister Wilson said.

“It is a very worthwhile project that works towards technology that could be part of the solution to offset emissions and reduce the risks of climate change.”

“The project aligns well with the government’s Technology Investment Roadmap towards using low-emissions technologies, and the IPCC’s and IEA’s pathways to net zero by 2050.”

Winning student teams are able to use funds to compete in subsequent rounds of XPRIZE Carbon Removal or to develop key supporting technologies which will enable carbon dioxide removal.

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