Technology Low-carbon concrete innovators win $15 million Carbon X-prize
Adidas running shoes with 3D printed midsoles push your feet forward
3D-printing firm Carbon makes the airy lattice that cushions runners' feet.That's because the shoe's 3D-printed midsole, made by Carbon is an airy lattice pierced by bowtie-shaped holes. When compressed, its squashing motion advances your foot compared to the position of the sole on the ground. Conventional midsoles, by comparison, just mash downward so the front of your foot mashes harder against the inside of the shoe.
The nascent low-carbon concrete industry got a $15 million boost on April 19, when the nonprofit Carbon X-Prizeas winners of a five-year innovation contest to design profitable uses for captured carbon dioxide. The prize, sponsored by a group of power and oil companies, shows how the companies want to keep operating as pressure grows from governments, investors, and the public to cut emissions.
The global economy is stillfrom shuttering all power plants and industrial facilities that run on fossil fuels. In the meantime, carbon capture systems will be essential to drive down emissions from those sources and offset their historic greenhouse footprint. There are about carbon capture facilities under development globally— mostly attached to gas-fired power plants, gas processing facilities, and factories for cement and other industrial products—but the technology has been plagued by the fundamental problem of what to do with CO2 once you capture it. If the gas is worthless, it’s impossible to justify the high upfront capital cost to capture it, and several early carbon capture projects .
Carbon capture and "dimming" the sun pose dilemmas for climate
Some climate experts say drastic times call for drastic measures. But would these geoengineering plans help or hurt the planet?The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5ºC" — the international community's benchmark guide to averting climate disaster — says to reach the goal of staying below 1.5ºC of warming requires "rapid and far-reaching transitions" in our energy, industrial and other systems that would be "unprecedented in scale." In other words, the task is herculean.
In recent years, the most common approach has been so-called enhanced oil recovery (EOR), in which captured CO2 is sold back to oil drilling companies to be injected into oil wells to facilitate drilling. But with drilling companies facing a bleak outlook for oil prices and looking to curb costs, the market for EOR is limited. The X-Prize was meant to spur the development and commercialization of alternatives;included companies using CO2 to make plastics, carbon nanotubes, and industrial chemicals.
In the end, the two winners were both focused on concrete. Alberta-based CarbonCure Technologies, Inc., developed a retrofit for existing concrete factories that uses CO2 to harden concrete and reduce the amount of energy and water required to produce it. California-based CarbonBuilt, Inc., utilizes CO2 to reduce the amount of cement needed for concrete production, cutting its carbon footprint in half. Its key innovation is the ability to use captured CO2 directly from the smokestack, skipping over a processing step that adds to cost and energy consumption.
Administration's messaging on carbon border adjustments undercuts US climate leadership
To successfully restore America’s climate leadership globally, Biden must commit his support for a national carbon price as part of any bipartisan legislation submitted to Congress. Then and only then will be the time to propose a carbon border adjustment for the United States. Shuting Pomerleau is a climate policy analyst at the Niskanen Center
Concrete is a good candidate for CO2 utilization, said X-Prize vice president of climate and energy Marcius Extavour, because it is a high-volume industrial product that has its. Out of the finalists, the two winning companies demonstrated the best ability to cut their costs and produce a product with serious market potential.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer,” he said. “We look forward to scaling this up.”
It’s also clear why the sponsors, American utility NRG Energy and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, want to be involved: Both stand to benefit in a world where carbon capture is cost-effective and commonplace. NRGon natural gas for much of its power generation, and the processing facilities for low-quality oil sands make it more carbon-intensive than regular crude oil. Supporting a market for captured carbon could be a cheaper way for those companies to reach net zero emissions than eliminating their reliance on oil and gas.
But ultimately, Extavour said, they will need to do both. “They have a huge emissions profile they need to deal with,” he said. “Carbon capture is not an excuse to continue business as usual.”
With this prize out the door, X-Prize will next turn to carbon capture technology itself, with athat will be decided in 2025.
US oil lobby endorses carbon pricing to counter 'command and control' climate policies .
The American Petroleum Institute endorsed carbon pricing on Thursday, putting the weight of the largest U.S. oil and gas lobbying group behind what many economists consider to be the most efficient policy to combat climate change. © Provided by Washington Examiner API’s support for the policy after years of resistance shows how pricing carbon, either through a tax or cap-and-trade program, has become the most palatable option for business groups despite its political unpopularity.