Calgary startup Carbon Engineering competes in Richard Branson's Virgin Earth Challenge for $25M

Posted by Techvibes NewsDesk

Calgary-based fledgling firm Carbon Engineering, which has backers by the names of Bill Gates and Murray Edwards, is vying for top spot in entrepeneur Richard Brandon's Virgin Earth Challenge.

The startup, which was born out of research by former University of Calgary professor David Keith, hungers for the $25 million prize. So far the company has raised $3.5 million in angel funding, and an additional $2.5 from investors such as Gates.

So what does Carbon Engineering do? The Calgary Herald explains:

The company foresees two pathways to apply its patented technology, one low-risk and one high-risk. Both are socalled liquid systems centred around capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air in a water-based solvent. Then, CO2 can be removed from the liquid using two processes, one based on a similar existing process in the paper industry and another "superduper exciting" technology that would consume less energy but is higher risk, Keith said. 

There are applications for the carbon that's removed, including creating transportation fuels through enhanced oil recovery, Keith said. "You're making hydrocarbon fuels with a very low life-cycle carbon emission."

CE could also create a machine that would take electricity for input and transform air into fuel by using water to make hydrogen. "This allows you to take the carbon out of the air, add some energy . . . and make a synthetic hydrocarbon," David explained to the Calgary Herald.

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Techvibes NewsDesk

Techvibes NewsDesk

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