To counteract the pollution caused by extractive industries, Xprize, a nonprofit organization spurring tech innovation via competition, launched the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE five years ago and its winners are to be announced in April.
The $15-million engineering contest was designed for those working to revamp today’s coal plants.
In detail, teams from around the world were selected to work at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC), a carbon capture, utilization and storage testing facility where 5% of the exhaust gas from the Dry Fork plant goes into a manifold system, providing ‘plug and play’ access for researchers. The idea is that they harness plant emissions so that their only byproduct becomes water vapor.
One of the teams worked on turning solar energy and carbon dioxide into a marketable product – syngas – for jet fuel, while another is producing concrete materials from the waste flue gas to mitigate CO2 emissions.
In parallel, a scientific team from the University of Wyoming has set out to demonstrate safe and secure geologic CO2 storage. The process should eventually lead to the commercialization of large-scale subsurface storage near the Dry Fork Station.
In the summer of 2021, the researchers expect to finalize geologic models to understand CO2 plumes and begin drilling their second CO2 test well. This will allow them to complete the geologic characterization and install a baseline monitoring network to scan carbon dioxide levels in the soil.
Upon project completion, the UW team expects to have advanced the science of carbon capture and storage – with beneficiaries ranging from the US Department of Energy to the coal and utility industries.