Founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk and competition-based impact platform XPRIZE announced today the largest incentive prize in history, the $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition. Aimed at attracting and inspiring innovators to develop and scale carbon removal solutions to combat climate change, the $100 million challenge is being funded by Musk and the Musk Foundation.

Musk said:

“We want to make a truly meaningful impact. Carbon negativity, not neutrality. The ultimate goal is scalable carbon extraction that is measured based on the ‘fully considered cost per ton’ which includes the environmental impact. This is not a theoretical competition; we want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level. Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence.”

XPRIZE Carbon Removal will be a four-year competition, in which teams will create and demonstrate solutions to pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans, locking away CO2 permanently in an environmentally benign way, and ultimately scaling massively to gigaton levels. According to XPRIZE, solutions will be scientifically evaluated across multiple criteria, including amount of CO2 removed, life cycle analysis of the removal process, energy efficiency, land footprint and sequestration capabilities.

After the first 18 months, the top 15 teams selected by the competition’s judges will receive $1 million each, and twenty-five $200,000 student scholarships will be distributed to student teams competing. At the conclusion of the competition, the grand prize winner will receive $50 million, with 2nd and 3rd place teams receiving $20 million and $10 million, respectively.

Peter H. Diamandis, Founder and Executive Chairman of XPRIZE, said:

“We are challenging engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to build and demonstrate carbon removal systems that work. Systems that in sub-scale can demonstrate real, viable carbon removal at 1 ton per day, and then show us how those systems can scale (cost effectively) to scale massively to gigaton scale. The goal of this competition is to inspire entrepreneurs and engineers to build the carbon dioxide removal solutions, many of which have only been discussed and debated.  We want to see them built, tested, and validated. We hope this XPRIZE will activate the public and private sectors to get involved in the same way that the $10M Ansari XPRIZE brought about the commercial spaceflight industry.”

Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE, added:

“Our Earth’s changing climate is a fundamental threat to humanity. But it’s not too late if we take action NOW! Human imagination and creativity can shape a brighter and more sustainable future on this planet we call home. By partnering with Elon and the Musk Foundation, we will crowdsource cost-effective solutions that can scale massively in the real world. Through XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition, the teams are invited to make history and become our climate heroes by reshaping our future.

“We are expecting a huge array and diversity of teams from around the world to register and compete. What’s beautiful about an XPRIZE competition is the diversity of approaches taken by the teams. This is a great fit for carbon removal because there are so many ways to pull CO2 out of the air and our oceans. We expect to see approaches like engineered direct air capture, mineralization and enhanced weathering, natural solutions based on plants, trees, or ocean-focused solutions. We want as many viable scalable demonstrations now so we can all help the best solutions get to deployment as soon as possible.”

XPRIZE Carbon Removal officially kicks off with team registration on Earth Day, April 22, 2021, with the competition concluding on Earth Day 2025.