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Carbon XPRIZE Approaches Deadline With Fewer Teams On-Site

Below the Dry Fork Station is the Integrated Test Center where Carbon XPRIZE teams were expected to set up shop. CO2Concrete's shelter is located near the middle of the picture.
Cooper McKim

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition is nearing its finale, though with fewer teams on site than expected. The international carbon capture competition based in Gillette welcomed its second and last competitor to site this week after COVID-19 complications prevented all three other competitors from making the trek.

Marcius Extavour, the Carbon XPRIZE lead, said his team had spent the better part of this year trying to maintain the original vision of the competition and have folks set up their demonstrations at the Integrated Test Center.

"As the months went on, and as, frankly, the barriers to international travel and all the ripple effects of the pandemic came into focus, we decided to sort of make a formal change," he said.

Now, Breathe, the team located in India, Carbon Capture Machine, located in Scotland, and C4X, located in China, will have to find similar locations in their home countries to collect data.

"We want to see you use flue gas from coal, we want to see you do everything you need to do to that flue gas and turn it into a material," said Extavour.

None of the international teams have yet located a site to place their demonstrations. CO2Concrete from the University of California, Los Angeles arrived at the Integrated Test Center in June and is still in the process of collecting its data. Dimensional Energy from Ithaca, New York arrived this week and has yet to begin collecting data.

Extavour said expectations for the international teams will be the same in terms of timeline, technical requirements and testing periods. Carbon XPRIZE will also have auditors to ensure teams' data is accurate.

He said this is an opportunity for the Carbon XPRIZE to up its international angle, while still holding on to its connection with Wyoming.

"But the way the pandemic unfolded, our choices were probably: not have them to demonstrate anything at all and just have their story end with sort of silence," said Extavour.

For now, teams are expected to finish collecting data from their demonstrations in November. While the original end date for the competition was February of this year, delays related to improved flexibility and COVID-19 have pushed the winner's announcement back to the spring of 2021.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Cooper McKim, at cmckim5@uwyo.edu.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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