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Canada’s CarbonCure wins prestigious Carbon XPRIZE

John Bleasby
Canada’s CarbonCure wins prestigious Carbon XPRIZE

In further international recognition of its breakthrough clean-tech innovation, CarbonCure Technologies of Dartmouth, N.S., has won the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. The announcement caps a 54-month contest that challenged teams from around the world to transform the most carbon into products with the highest commercial value.

CarbonCure’s patented processes include the refining of CO2 collected from industry outputs, which are then used as a strengthening agent in concrete. The result is that the emitted carbons are embedded in the concrete instead of being released into the atmosphere.

Innovations that reduce GHG and carbon emissions are critical to successfully combat climate change. Construction has become a focal point in the global attempt to reduce such emissions given the industry’s outsized contribution to the problem.

“Buildings are the source of 40 per cent of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. The world’s building stock is expected to double by 2060 so it’s vital that solutions like CarbonCure’s scale quickly,” said Marcius Extavour, executive director of the Carbon XPRIZE and vice-president of Climate and Energy for the XPRIZE Foundation. “CarbonCure’s solution for the concrete industry exemplifies XPRIZE’s ideal innovation — it is effective, commercially viable, and scalable — and it can make a real difference to climate change today.”

“Climate change can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Team CarbonCure and our fellow Carbon XPRIZE contenders have demonstrated that the challenge is surmountable and that we have the solutions available today to create meaningful change,” said Jennifer Wagner, CarbonCure president and leader of Team CarbonCure. “The prize money will be used to accelerate our path to our mission of reducing 500 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually by 2030. We’re also committing to build an XPRIZE legacy by investing a portion of the prize funds into social equity initiatives.”

Over the course of the competition, the company was able to showcase several of its carbon-reducing technologies. This included what CarbonCure says is the world’s first integrated CO2 capture project from cement kiln emissions, as well as a new commercial technology that carbonates wastewater generated at concrete plants for use in production of concrete, thereby creating concrete with a reduced water, cement and carbon intensity.

“The use of CO2 in concrete is expected to become a US$400 billion market opportunity,” the company said in a media release, “so solutions like CarbonCure’s are both very timely to respond to climate targets and represent an attractive economic opportunity for heavy industry.”

CarbonCure Technologies has been moving from strength-to-strength over the past couple years. It received worldwide media attention after receiving investment from a group of high-profile investors led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures in late 2019.  This was followed in September 2020 by an investment from Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, only one of five companies receiving the first tranche of a $2 billion venture capital initiative.

The company has also benefitted from initiatives undertaken by several municipal, provincial and state jurisdictions across North America. This includes a $5 million partnership with Emissions Reduction Alberta to accelerate the rollout of CarbonCure systems and technologies to help the province reach its climate goals.

“Governments are setting net-zero emissions targets, yet embarking on once-in-a-generation infrastructure renewal projects to restart the economy. Canadian companies like CarbonCure are helping the global construction industry with the critical challenge of managing embodied CO2 in building and infrastructure projects, by turning concrete into a climate solution,” said Catherine McKenna, minister of infrastructure and communities for the Government of Canada. “Winning the Carbon XPRIZE demonstrates CarbonCure’s world-leading position as a negative emission and low-carbon concrete solution.”

 

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