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CIFAR-led team advances to finals of Carbon XPrize


CIFAR Bio-inspired Solar Energy Graduate Student Fellow Phil de Luna (Credit: Tyler Irving/ University of Toronto)

A multidisciplinary group, led by CIFAR Bio-inspired Solar Energy Program Co-Director Ted Sargent, is among the finalists for the Carbon XPrize.

The international NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE presents this challenge: capture carbon emissions from power plants and efficiently convert them into valuable chemical products. Finalists for the $7.5-million grand prize were revealed today at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit in New York City.

CERT, a team of two dozen multidisciplinary researchers working with Sargent and David Sinton at the University of Toronto, is one of just five teams around the world to make it into the third and final round in the natural gas plant stream.

“The Carbon XPRIZE aims to catalyze the development of practical solutions to one of the most urgent challenges of our time,” Sargent told U of T News.

“Our team thanks its supporters in helping us pursue and meet a truly ambitious goal: upgrade waste CO2 into a valuable product.”

CERT leveraged the team’s expertise in electrocatalysis to develop nanoparticle-based catalysts that use clean electricity to recycle CO2 into valuable carbon-based products. The team demonstrated they could convert kilograms of CO2 into carbon monoxide, a widely utilized industrial chemical.

Next, CERT will have to implement its capture-and-conversion system at a testing facility in Alberta, where they will tap the flue emissions from an active natural gas power plant.

The five teams to successfully demonstrate their technology in Round 2 share US$2.5-million in funding, US$500,000 each to advance their respective solutions. The winner of Round 3 earns a US$7.5-million grand prize, no strings attached.

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