NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE and Southern Research's Energy & Environment (E&E) division announced a partnership to help with the independent validation of competing technologies in the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE – a $20 million global competition that incentivizes innovators to transform how the world approaches CO2 mitigation with the development of groundbreaking technologies that convert carbon dioxide emissions into valuable products.
Southern Research will serve as an independent, unbiased technical evaluator tasked with assessing performance of the competing technologies. In this role, technologists from the organization's E&E division will visit each of the competing teams and validate each technology's performance based on the two primary scoring criteria of the competition: how much CO2 they are able to convert, and the net value of products created with the carbon.
"Southern Research represents the type of rigor, independence and experience we need in order to properly test the broad diversity of new carbon conversion technologies in this competition," said NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE Director of Technical Operations Marcius Extavour. "XPRIZE is an innovation engine that tries to catalyze breakthrough technologies that can address our collective grand challenges. Climate change and carbon emissions are in that category, and we know that Southern Research has been at the forefront of technology and standards in this field for decades. We're excited to bring their expertise to bear."
"Our team of scientists and engineers have experience in deploying and testing new renewable energy and environmental management technologies in the field. That real world experience, combined with process modeling and analytical capabilities, gives us the ability to judge which technologies are more likely to succeed when commercialized," said Bill Grieco, vice president of Southern Research's E&E division.
For over 40 years, the division has been testing, developing and licensing technologies designed to help energy producers and industry manage their environmental footprint. Southern Research specializes in controlling the environmental footprint of processes for energy generation and distribution, water treatment and reuse, and chemicals and fuel manufacturing.
Of particular relevance to the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, E&E manages a task force specifically for independent performance validation and demonstration of energy and related sustainable technologies. This team also strives to predict the economic and life cycle impacts of emerging technologies with techno-economic analyses (TEA) and life cycle assessments (LCA). This team has also been deeply involved in the development of ISO 14034, an international standard to define how the performance of environmental technologies are evaluated.
"The vast majority of energy consumed in the world will continue to be produced from fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal for the foreseeable future," said Santosh Gangwal, director of business development, Southern Research's E&E division. "When combusted, fossil fuels expel CO2 into the atmosphere, which could contribute to changes in the earth's climate. While there can only be one winner for the Carbon XPRIZE competition, this is important work, and we strongly encourage all competing teams to continue developing these transformative technologies. The independent validation provided by Southern Research and XPRIZE is a valuable benefit to all teams."
XPRIZE competitions assess the contestants' innovations in three stages: a submission round, a laboratory testing round, and a demonstration round where the contestants' technologies are examined under real world conditions. The 4½-year NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition will include all three rounds across two tracks — one focused on testing technologies at a coal plant and another that focuses on testing technologies at a natural gas power plant. Each track will operate as a separate competition on the same timeline.
Southern Research will lend its expertise to working closely with the Carbon XPRIZE and its competing teams to help scale these breakthrough technologies in the second stage of the competition in real and tangible ways.