Musk puts out $100 million bounty for carbon capture tech
Elon Musk has put out a $100 million bounty for the best carbon capture technology. The billionaire entrepreneur took to Twitter on Thursday to announce the prize meant to encourage solutions to address carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The bounty is indicative of Musk's PR suaveness, in the way it has generated worldwide interest toward both his philanthropy as well as the global warming issue.
Musk hasn't shared any additional details on the competition, but wrote another tweet promising to elaborate on the specifics of the bounty next week. The carbon capture specified in his bounty refers to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) process. It involves capturing CO2 at the source of the emission and converting it into something that doesn't harm the environment.
Prevalent CCS technologies have proven to be ineffective and expensive so far. These involve expensive membranes and scrubbing agents with limited life and prohibitively expensive regeneration process. The most effective methods cost around $150 per ton of captured carbon. That's a problem because climate scientists estimate that at least 33 gigatons of CO2 need to be captured from the atmosphere each year.
Notably, Alphabet had been working on a solution to this problem through its semi-secret X initiative. Dubbed as Project Foghorn, the ambitious endeavor involved harnessing CO2 dissolved in the sea to create a carbon neutral fuel. The solution not only aimed to reduce CO2 content, but also use that to produce an energy source. Like most Google endeavors, this too was shut down prematurely.
Musk's announcement comes after the billionaire asked his Twitter followers to suggest ideas to give away his wealth in a meaningful manner. The flamboyant Tesla CEO has so far given away approximately $100 million of his wealth to various science, engineering, education, and internet related endeavors. Musk had also signed the Giving Pledge, which expects signatories to give away half of their wealth within their lifetimes.