Elon Musk is donating a $100 million prize for carbon capture technology — here’s what that means

SpaceX proprietor and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses as he arrives on the crimson carpet for the Axel Springer Awards ceremony, in Berlin, on December 1, 2020.

Britta Pedersen | AFP | Getty Images

Elon Musk tweeted Thursday he’ll be “donating $100 million in direction of a prize for finest carbon defend discontinuance know-how.”

The Tesla and SpaceX boss did no longer present any specifics beyond the tweet, nonetheless said “fundamental capabilities next week.” Money rewards for innovation prizes are no longer unique. As an illustration, the XPRIZE foundation is a non-profit which facilitates cash prizes to incentivize innovation.

So what’s carbon defend discontinuance know-how?

Carbon defend discontinuance, utilization and storage or sequestration (CCUS), which is often shortened to “carbon defend discontinuance,” is a direction of of taking pictures carbon emissions, to either retailer or reuse, in show to prevent the emissions from being launched into the ambiance.

Excess carbon dioxide gasses block warmth from escaping the earth’s ambiance and reason world warming. Since the Industrial Revolution, human speak has increased atmospheric carbon dioxide by 47% and is “the supreme long-lived ‘forcing’ of climate commerce,” per NASA.

Using a contest to force innovation in carbon defend discontinuance know-how is “undoubtedly a extraordinarily real understanding,” said Ahmed F. Ghoniem, a professor at MIT who has a analysis pastime in CO2 defend discontinuance applied sciences. Innovation in carbon defend discontinuance know-how is wished for “decreasing the cost and complexity of the know-how and bettering the general efficiency,” he instantaneous CNBC by e mail.

Carbon defend discontinuance just isn’t any longer unique. There are currently 21 CCUS devoted-scale industrial initiatives across the globe, per the Global Energy Company, a Paris-basically based intergovernmental energy group. The first one was residence up in 1972.

So some distance, carbon defend discontinuance has been a disappointment.

“The myth of CCUS has largely been one of unmet expectations: its doable to mitigate climate commerce has been identified for decades, nonetheless deployment has been tiresome and so has had finest a restricted affect on world CO2 emissions,” the Global Energy Company says.

But, that can be altering. “There are determined signs that CCUS may well moreover be gaining traction,” the IEA says.

The U.S. federal authorities “helps analysis and construction” of carbon defend discontinuance both in shopping for and assessing the viability of geologic areas to retailer carbon and in rising know-how to better realize what occurs to carbon when it is kept for long classes of time, per the Division of Energy.

Telsa did no longer straight acknowledge to CNBC’s request for comment.

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