In 2008, Lee’s Prize Capital initiated and spearheaded the process that lead to the launch of the $20M Carbon XPRIZE, a high profile, international competition to find viable technologies that can cost-effectively utilize carbon emissions from industrial facilities to produce valuable products.

With large project announcements in 2020 and 2021 and construction slated to begin onsite for multiple projects in 2022, Wyoming’s Integrated Test Center has surpassed $100 million in research and development funding to tenants to advance carbon capture and carbon utilization research here in Wyoming.

On July 23, a team competing for the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE and testing at the Wyoming ITC, received a two-year, $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to support development of a process that can convert carbon dioxide emissions into construction materials. The UCLA research team and their project, CO2Concrete, are in the final rounds of the XPRIZE competition.

Each of these climate-change articles is fiction, but grounded in historical fact and real science. The year, concentration of carbon dioxide and average temperature rise (above pre-industrial average) are shown for each one. The scenarios do not present a unified narrative but are set in different worlds, with a range of climate sensitivities, on different emissions pathways.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intends to make approximately $122 million available, through a competitive process, to establish coal products innovation centers. The innovation centers will focus on manufacturing value-added, carbon-based products from coal, as well developing new methods to extract and process rare earth elements and critical minerals from coal.

First Carbon XPRIZE Team Arrives at ITC

Wyoming Integrated Test Center, June 24, 2020

Earlier this month, the Wyoming ITC welcomed the first team of finalists competing for the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. The CO2Concrete team includes researchers from UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and experienced professionals in energy and environmental sectors. Professor Gaurav Sant leads the team’s efforts towards the industrial realization of CO₂Concrete, a process for CO₂ utilization by manufacturing a low-carbon concrete-equivalent material.

Prize Capital has been working with and connected to various initiatives focused on advancing carbon technology and prize-based innovation. This newsletter provides an overview of some of the activities underway, along with key
opportunities for collaboration and value enhancement.

Developing the Carbon XPRIZE

In 2008, Prize Capital began researching an appropriate category for the first deployment of its venture finance model.  This lead Prize Capital to algae, and the promise of an algae fuel prize.  On April 28, 2009, Prize Capital hosted its first prize development workshop at the Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla, CA.

On October 7, 2009, Prize Capital presented at the Algae Biomass Summit hosted by the Algae Biomass Organization.

In the audience at the Summit were representatives of Sunflower Integrated Bioenergy (SIB), a center that was being developed on the site of Sunflower Electric Power Corporation’s Holcomb Station.  It was this meeting and subsequent conversations with SIB that prompted the realization that while algae could produce fuel, it also afforded the service of rapidly absorbing CO2, which is of benefit to electric utilities.  And algae isn’t the only technology that can absorb and utilize CO2 – there were other non-biological approaches as well.  Thus, the approach no longer was limited to the production of transportation fuel nor to the inclusion of biological technologies.  The “Carbon Utilization Prize” was born.

SIB introduced Prize Capital to Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association in early 2010.  Tri-State is a wholesale electric power supplier owned by the 44 electric cooperatives that it serves. Tri-State generates and transmits electricity to its member systems and their approximately 1.5 million consumers throughout a 200,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.  Together, Prize Capital and Tri-State embarked on a multi-year journey to develop a platform that can catalyze  technologies that are able to lower CO2 emissions while maintaining utilities’ ability to provide reliable, affordable baseload electricity.

On August 5, 2010, Prize Capital organized and produced its second prize development workshop, which was hosted by the St. Louis Science Center in St. Louis, MO.  The St. Louis Science Center had historical significance for the prize, given that it was where the Ansari XPRIZE was based and awarded in 2004.

The relationship with Tri-State included Prize Capital’s production of four volumes of syndicated research to fully inform and document the Carbon Prize development process and potential.

The four volumes, along with the draft prize rulesets that Prize Capital produced based on input from over 120 industry experts and the two prize development workshops helped attract an industry consortium to join in the effort to make the Carbon XPRIZE and associated components as successful as possible.

These publications and other forms of due diligence also helped inform the emergence and passage of Wyoming Enrolled Act HEA0041, which will fund and develop the world’s first “Integrated Test Center” – a real-world carbon technology innovation center that will be based in Gillette, Wyoming.

Prize Capital is proud to have been the initiator and founding sponsor of the Carbon XPRIZE and its founding sponsor, and to have developed with Tri-State a comprehensive platform to catalyze CO2 mitigation technologies.

Historical Progression of the Carbon Prize Rulesets

The 3rd Generation Renewable Fuels Prize

April 2009

The Algae Fuel Prize

September, 2009

The Carbon Utilization Prize

January, 2010

Carbon Prize - Abbreviated Ruleset Outline - DRAFT v10

November, 2010

Other Carbon Utilization Resources

Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the Green Economy, Centre for Low Carbon Futures

March 2011

Accelerating the Uptake o CCS: Industrial Use of Captured Carbon Dioxide

July 2011

Carbon Dioxide Utilization, Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 - Opportunities and Challenges

July 2011

California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel - Technical Advisory Committee Report, Beneficial use of Carbon Dioxide

October 2010

Fossil Energy RD&D: Reducing the Cost of CCUS for Coal Fired Power Plants

Jan 2012

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