When the non-profit organization XPRIZE announced a $100-million contest to spur technological development in carbon capture, it represented something of a landmark moment.
As the conversation surrounding climate change and our environmental impact continued to increase in volume, the prospect for solutions unfortunately grew more slowly.
In partnership with The Musk Foundation, this contest helped propel this topic away from simple conversation and toward action.
Since its announcement, 15 different startups have received $1 million awards, and the grand winners in 2025 are set to receive a portion of an $80-million sum.
Well, it just so happens the work is already producing some extremely encouraging results. One of those aforementioned 15 startups, in partnership with a Canadian company, recently unveiled a breakthrough that could just turn the tide in this fight.
Heirloom Carbon Technologies, a San Francisco-based renewable technology startup, has focused its carbon capture efforts on one of the world’s most tried-and-true methods: minerals.
Limestone is one of the most abundant rocks in the world, making up approximately 10% of all of the planet’s sedimentary rock.
In its natural composition, limestone absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere over long periods of time.
Well, Heirloom has devised a way to speed up this process from a matter of years to a matter of days – and it could just spell a breakthrough for the carbon capture industry.
By heating crushed limestone, the startup causes the rock to release the CO2 absorbed over time. However, in the process it has, in a sense, starved the rock of carbon dioxide.
This now-starved limestone is used as a sort of sponge for CO2, and in a matter of a days, it absorbs close to half of its weight.
The next step of the process is perhaps the most exciting part. In its partnership with CarbonCure Technologies, the CO2 absorbed by this limestone is deposited and stored in concrete.
While research and testing is still ongoing, preliminary results captured equivalent carbon dioxide to the amount emitted from a gas-powered car throughout a 75-mile trip.
These are precisely the type of breakthroughs XPRIZE and The Musk Foundation were hoping to help spur with the landmark contest.
This achievement underscores the loads of potential in the industry – and for the long-term health of our environment.
The commercial opportunity for these companies is practically infinite in a world rapidly prioritizing sustainability.
That’s why we’re so excited to monitor this sector with hopes of sharing the next big investment opportunity with you.
The A+E Network Deal Research Team