Ranging from carbon capture entrepreneurs and start-ups to academic institutions and companies that have been tackling the challenge for more than a decade, the finalists hail from five countries and have already demonstrated conversion of CO2 into a wide variety of products, such as enhanced concrete, liquid fuels, plastics and carbon fiber. The universe of potential CO2-based products crosses a variety of energy sectors, industrial processes and consumer products. Each finalist team passed a first round evaluation based on the amount of CO2 converted into products, as well as the economic value, market size and CO2 uptake potential of those products.
The competition is divided into two parallel tracks with five teams competing in each:
Carbon Upcycling Technologies (CUT) converts CO2 emissions into valuable solid powders. CUT’s IP-protected process creates a portfolio of advanced materials from waste CO2 and cheaply available solids such as graphite, fly ash, and petroleum coke. The resulting nanoparticle additives have a range of applications for the plastics, coatings, epoxy, adhesives, concrete, and lithium-ion battery industries.
C2CNT has developed an inexpensive means of transforming CO2 into carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which have remarkable properties of flexibility, high conductivity, and lightweight strength greater than steel. Carbon nanotubes can be used as lightweight, cheap replacements for metals; new bullet- and taser-proof textiles; stronger cement-composite building materials; and expanding applications in industrial catalysis, batteries, and nanoelectronics.
Newlight converts greenhouse gases into a high-performance biodegradable plastic replacement called AirCarbon®, a material that is estimated to have the ability to out-compete fossil-fuel based plastics globally on a price and sustainability basis. The company is commercializing its product with brand-name customers and supply agreements amounting to 74 billion pounds of AirCarbon® over the next 20 years.
CERT has developed a modular system for the electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 into chemical feedstocks and carbon-based fuels, using only water and electricity. CERT’s unique process operates at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, which can dramatically reduce the complexity of the system. CERT will target drop-in applications in chemical processes as well as opportunities for seasonal energy storage of renewable electricity.
Carbicrete is commercializing a process that produces stronger, less expensive precast concrete without the use of cement. The technology makes it possible to produce a variety of building materials, including construction blocks that are up to 30% stronger than conventional concrete, cost less to manufacture (because they employ cheap industrial waste), and avoid 3 kg of CO2 emissions per block.
C4X’s unique process converts waste CO2 into a variety of chemicals and plastics, including those used in lithium-ion batteries and textile packaging. C4X also produces microscopic CO2 foamed plastics for use in applications such as car and aircraft interiors, packaging and beverages. The process is powered using excess energy from coal and renewable generation in China that would otherwise be discarded.
Breathe Applied Sciences specializes in design and use of novel catalysts for converting CO2 into high-purity methanol and carbon monoxide, which have a wide range of industrial, manufacturing, and chemical applications.
CarbonCure is a Canadian CO2 utilization technology company serving the global cement and concrete industry, with nearly 100 installations in concrete plants across North America. Their concrete has been used in the construction of hundreds of projects, from the California high speed rail line to commercial high rise buildings to simple driveways and has supply chain partnerships with players in the construction chemical admixture and industrial gas sectors.
CCM’s proprietary mineralization process combines CO2 with saline water to produce carbon-negative Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC), Precipitated Magnesium Carbonate (PMC), and other high value carbonate feedstocks.
Carbon Upcycling UCLA’s breakthrough technology creates CO2NCRETETM: strong, prefabricated components that directly substitute for standard construction products with a CO2 footprint less than half that of conventional concrete. The technology offers unprecedented energy efficiency and scalability and unlocks the potential to use abundant and cheap fly ash.