Elon Musk is donating $100M for the best carbon capture technology



Colonizing Mars is not Elon Musk’s only ambition, he is also determined to better the life on planet Earth as well. The tech titan has pledged a $100 million dollar prize for whoever demonstrates the best technology for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the atmosphere.

Musk also said that the details of this program will be announced next week. Looks like a tight schedule for teams for putting together a proposal to convince the most knowledgeable CEO in the world.

This is the 2nd donation that Elon Musk is putting on the table this month, the first one was a $5M contribution to Khan Academy in order to spread education beyond boundaries.

Update: Here’s how to apply for Musk’s $100M carbon capture grant.

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What is Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS)

In short, the process or technique for decarbonization or removal of carbon from the atmosphere and storing it under the Earth’s crust is called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). If the process also involves the utilization of captured CO2 for further use, it’s called Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU).

Illustration of Carbon Capture Storage from power plant emissions.
Illustration of Carbon Capture Storage from power plant emissions. Credits: T&D World.

Making carbon-neutral fuels, performing chemical synthesis, carbon mineralization, and algae cultivation are some use cases of CO2 utilization.

This technology is largely under-utilized, only 17 CCS projects were operational as of 2019. The implementation of a CCS or CCU system would best suit coal or fossil-fule-powered electricity generation plants, where the emissions can be brought down significantly.

Diagram: Carbon Capture Storage and Utilization.
Diagram: Carbon Capture Storage and Utilization. Credits: Qazxsw23edc via Wikimedia Commons (CC by SA 4.0).

Although a CCS system can reduce a power plant’s emissions by 80-90%, with the current technology, this implementation increases the per kWh cost of the electricity produced by 21-91% for a fossil fuel-based power plant.

Further Study: CCS | CCU (Wikipedia) | An analysis of research hotspots and modeling techniques on carbon capture and storage (Scientific paper).

Musk’s aim with the 100M grant

What Elon Musk means by ‘best’ in his above-mentioned tweet might be the cost reduction of the implementation and reduction of cost. Musk as a businessman is always pursuing to drive down the cost of his products and services in order to make them available for a wider range of customers.

Tesla has brought the electric car costs significantly and has created stiff competition in the automotive market to push existing companies in bringing the cost of their EVs down. The same goes for his SpaceX rocket launches, he has been successful in bringing down the cost of lower orbit satellite launches.

Elon Musk‘s investment in this sector would double down on the efforts towards a sustainable future along with electric vehicles to reduce automotive emissions.

The United States government is also keen on such projects, according to a T&D World report, in 2019, the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) announced 3 funding opportunities totaling a $110M.

BioUrban 2.0: A robotic carbon capture tree that cleans air equal to 368 real trees.
BioUrban 2.0: A robotic carbon capture tree that cleans air equal to 368 real trees. Credits: Sergio Bojórquez Meza (right) / Twitter.

Some private sector companies are already working on carbon capture projects. One such company is BioMitech from Mexico. BioMitech has created artificial robotic trees that inhale polluted air and the algae stored in containers on top of the tree absorbs the CO2, clean air full of oxygen is then released into the surroundings. The product is named BioUrban and is currently functional in Mexico.

According to the company, the carbon absorption capability of BioUrban 2.0 is equal to 368 natural trees. In my opinion, similar projects might capture Elon Musk’s attention as these look practical and cost-effective.

Algae needs carbon dioxide to survive, this type of original idea is what most probably Musk will be expecting in grant proposals.

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Infographic (Spanish): How BioUrban 2.0 robotic carbon capture tree works.
Infographic (Spanish): How BioUrban 2.0 robotic carbon capture tree works. Credits: BioMitech.
Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar Alihttp://www.teslaoracle.com
Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii


  1. Hi Elon (Legend mate)

    Not sure if this will Reach Elon but here goes.
    The hockey stick for CO2 is exactly the same as the graph for human population growth.
    Humans breath out 12-20 times a minute….we remove Oxygen release CO2…..it’s there in our lungs…..all we have to do is breath out over a catalyst that captures the C and releases the O….2 birds one stone.
    Now everyone is wearing masks….incorporate a catalyst in a mask and as humans exhale x billions…..it is being captured.
    I believe this is a good idea……find someone that can make the catalysts, give them $90m i would be more than happy with $10m as an unemployed engineer with PTSD it would alter my life.
    The thing about 162 IQ on linkedin is just my stupid autistic traits coming through, sorry. I love solving problems, if you have any jobs?!

    Kind Regards
    Robert Preston EngTech MIET

    • Most probably this will not reach Elon posting here but you can post your thoughts in a reply to his tweets, that’s the only communication channel to him right now.

  2. CO2 exhaust gas problem!

    Hardly a day goes by without hearing about the global climate change, and the exhaust problem of coal-fired power plants and other fossil-fuel power plants, and that greenhouse gas emissions must go down.
    Sometimes I have the impression that it is not really intended to clean the exhaust fumes, but that it is only a political issue to make people feel guilty about enforcing certain interests.
    You hear and read again and again about any summit and climate summit of theorists and large corporations, perhaps pursue very different interests and do not attack this issue.
    We have been developing for many years a very economical solution to this CO2 exhaust problem that is detectable and applicable to large scale industrial applications.
    Unfortunately, hardly anyone really cares about it.
    It’s about an innovative, mature technology that has many, capable people and experienced developers, who have been working for many years to absorb the CO2 emissions of power plants with a kind of catalyst.
    Incidentally, this catalyst can be further utilized to other base products. (Similar to how nature, like a forest, does too).
    This completes a very economical process chain.
    The result is that we get clean air from the chimneys.

  3. By planting 6000 Hectares of Bamboo we will by year 6 be absorbing 168,150,559 tons of CO2 on an annually

  4. We will also be planting 2000 hectares in Zambia as well as Swaziland. Creating much needed jobs 600 per 1000 hectares. Plus producing power and fuel. All green. With no pollution. Can also produce 450 litres of ethanol per ton of Bamboo.

  5. Mr. Elon Musk
    Look at the articl on LinkedIn please that I posted per article about your offerr. Second I sir with utmost respect will lay out the road map that will help you A. Eliminate 75% Carbon and other poisons fro factory pollution B. Increase reduce plastic waste in our oceans and Eliminate poor countries beaches of their plastic by at least 75% AND bring those poor people much needed jobs. C. Increase SpaceX Business by at least 100%.
    I have to much to add here so please see my LinkedIn Comment and track me down and lets talk.

  6. Elon Musk, You been sent our information regarding Future Energy Technologies, our technology of ending emissions worldwide is coming it is just a matter of time.

Comments are closed.

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