Elon's Antics and What I Want to Learn Next

The game is on and it's go time.

Hi everyone,

Only one thing to talk about today. Elon and XPrize have teamed up and the result is an epic $100M competition launching on Earth Day, with a first round of winners chosen after 18 months. And it’s time to rally all the students out there because 25 student teams are coming home with $200,000 as well. Very exciting!

First of all, calling all students out there! If you’re an undergrad, a grad student, or even a high schooler, join Carbon Visions, a carbon removal Slack community for students. We have regular paper discussions, we’re spinning up some cool initiatives, and we’re ready to fiercely take on Elon’s challenge! Feel free to pass the link along to any students you know that might be interested!

In thinking about how I want to approach this challenge, I created a list of the parts of the CDR space that I’m currently most excited about and plan to dive deeper into. If you have know a lot about or know of good resources focusing on any of the below topics, hit reply and I’d love to chat.

  1. Carbon Negative Hydrogen - I’ve been researching gasification of biomass as a means of producing syngas (and ultimately hydrogen) as part of the problem pack about seaweed to biofuels that’s currently running. Producing clean hydrogen in a way that also sequesters carbon in the process seems like a win-win with several potential revenue streams, so I want to better understand both the pathway, potential feedstocks, and the economics. I’m learning more using the new BiCRS roadmap and this macroalgae specific review paper that touches on hydrogen in the gasification section.

  2. Geothermal and Carbon Removal - Seems to me like a match made in heaven. Low-grade waste heat from geothermal can provide energy for DAC. Geologic sequestration and accessing heat reservoirs both require wells, so co-location seems almost built-in. I know there are other CDR approaches where geothermal fluid flow helps bring about in-situ carbon mineralization. I’ve got a lot of learning to do here even on the basics of how geothermal plants work, and plan to start with this David Roberts article on the topic. I first got excited about CDR + geothermal reading this carbon mineralization review paper, and learned a lot more reading Chapter 3 of the CDR primer.

  3. Electrochemical DAC - Way back when I just had entered the CDR space in June, I produced YouTube videos summarizing the DAC chapter of the 2019 NASEM report, which covered the classic liquid solvent and solid sorbent methods of capturing carbon. I was only very vaguely aware of the newer electrochemical DAC processes like the electroswing system being developed by Verdox or magnetic induction swing adsorption. I still know very little about how these work, but successfully unlocking DAC that works at ambient temperatures seems huge, and I want to learn more. If I can stomach all the chemistry, maybe I’ll start with this review paper?

Also on my list: Mg chemical looping and building up markets for biochar. And I know the oceans are a huge CDR lever, but I’m currently feeling slightly pessimistic about hyped up solutions like open ocean seaweed cultivation and ocean alkalinity enhancement.

What do you want to learn more about in the CDR world right now? Are you planning on entering the competition? Hit reply and let me know!

Carbon Removal Meme of the Week

If you have any carbon removal memes (or are inspired and decide to make one!), please send them to me! I’ll highlight my favorite CDR meme each week here.