If there’s anyone who could afford to give these young innovators some starting capital, it’s the richest person in history. A pair of postgrad engineering students at the University of Toronto and their team of researchers (forming a group called E-quester) have been awarded $250,000 through an Elon Musk-backed competition.
According to the Toronto Star, Celine Xiao and Shijie Liu have been working on a method to capture and isolate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using just electricity, which could reduce greenhouse gas emissions if they can scale it up and incorporate a renewable energy source.
The carbon capture process used today comes at a high energy cost, and E-quester’s invention could help minimize that cost.
“The fundamental principles of the design have been proven to work, now we just need some funds to combine all the subsystems together and experimentally show our design works,” said Liu to the outlet.
— U of T News (@UofTNews) November 16, 2021
That’s where Musk’s XPRIZE Foundation comes in. Described as a “non-profit organization that designs and hosts public competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity,” it gives young engineers a chance to get their innovations off the ground.
E-quester is one of 23 student-led teams that won the $5M Carbon Removal Student Competition earlier this month. This round is actually part of a $100 million competition for carbon removal initiatives supported by XPRIZE and the Musk Foundation. Their next goal is to win the grand prize — $50 million USD.
“We are beyond excited to be receiving this award,” said Liu to U of T News.
“We believed that we were a strong contender with our innovative system design, but we also knew there were a lot of people with brilliant ideas competing for this award. It is such an honour to be recognized as one of the top student teams.”