Elon Musk’s $100 million XPRIZE competition welcomes three finalists from Canada

The Elon Musk-funded XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition welcomes three Canadian cleantech startups. They are among 20 finalists vying to receive up to $50 million to fund their project to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The competition, funded by the Musk Foundation, aims to combat climate change. It includes $100 million in incentives for innovators who can create and demonstrate solutions that capture and remove carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere or oceans.

More than 1,300 teams took part in the four-year competition. They developed new ideas for removing carbon dioxide across four competition areas: air, ocean, land, and rocks.

The selected finalists have a goal of removing 1,000 net tonnes of CO2 during the final year of the competition. The winner will be announced in April 2025.

In the “Stones” category is the Canadian company Arca, a Vancouver startup looking to activate magnesium silicate in mine tailings.

“Geologists will tell you that 99 percent of the Earth’s carbon is stored in rocks. That’s why we’re focusing on carbon mineralization, the natural process that transforms carbon into rock,” Arca co-founder and head of science Greg Dipple said in a statement. “After 20 years of academic research, and having worked with dozens of mining companies, we have developed the technology to accelerate mineralization and we’re now deploying this on site.”

Targeting “Air” is the Sherbrooke, Quebec based startup, Skyrenu. Their project combines a direct air capture (DAC) system with a rock carbonation process through treated asbestos mine tailings.

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia based Planetary Technologies is focusing on the “Ocean” category. The company has developed an Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) process that removes carbon from the atmosphere and reduces local ocean acidity by adding an antacid to the water. Using a network of reservoirs, sensors, and pumps, its software platform monitors and controls the antacid delivery process to ensure it remains within safe limits.

Finalists were selected based on their performance in operations, sustainability, and value, according to XPRIZE. The competition has already distributed $5 million to 23 student teams and $15 million to 15 “milestone winners.” Thirty million will also be distributed to the runners-up in April 2025.

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