Musk to Donate $100 Million Prize for Top Carbon Capture Technology

Musk to Donate $100 Million Prize for Top Carbon Capture Technology

Who knows who might win the coveted prize and help strike a blow against climate change?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has tweeted that he will be “donating $100 million towards a prize for best carbon capture technology.”

The current richest man in the world did not provide any other details beyond the tweet but did say more information will be coming out later this week.

The prize money would be Musk’s largest known contribution to date and represents only about .05 percent of his net worth, which is largely derived from his Tesla stock holdings.

Because of the potentially deadly effects of climate change, developing better carbon capture technologies has become a primary focus for many scientists around the world. Carbon capture, utilization and storage or sequestration (CCUS)—often shortened to “carbon capture”—is a process of removing carbon emissions to either store or reuse.

According to NASA, excess carbon dioxide gasses block heat from escaping the Earth’s atmosphere, which eventually leads to warming of the planet.

“The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is currently at nearly 412 parts per million (ppm) and rising,” the space agency states.

“This represents a 47 percent increase since the beginning of the Industrial Age, when the concentration was near 280 ppm, and an 11 percent increase since 2000, when it was near 370 ppm. … Scientists know the increases in carbon dioxide are caused primarily by human activities because carbon produced by burning fossil fuels has a different ratio of heavy-to-light carbon atoms, so it leaves a distinct ‘fingerprint’ that instruments can measure.”

Currently, there are more than twenty large-scale CCUS commercial projects worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based intergovernmental energy organization. They, however, have so far disappointed.

“The story of CCUS has largely been one of unmet expectations: its potential to mitigate climate change has been recognized for decades, but deployment has been slow and so has had only a limited impact on global CO2 emissions,” the agency states.

Musk is currently worth $202 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, which tracks the wealth of the five hundred richest people on the planet. In 2012, the forty-nine-year-old entrepreneur signed “The Giving Pledge” that promised to give away half of his fortune to charity. At the time, his net worth was roughly $2 billion.

Musk’s wealth has been propelled by his Tesla stock holdings that have been on a tear over the past year, which have seen gains of nearly 700 percent. Ever since its recent inclusion in the S&P 500 index, analysts are anticipating even more bullish moves in the stock price.

Last year, Musk predicted that his electric vehicles, which are still very much a work in progress, would boost the company’s market cap to $500 billion. At the time of his prediction, its market cap was sitting under $45 billion.

Musk previously said he would not take any cash salary from Tesla until it hits $100 billion in market cap.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.