StartHUB Wageningen – Student team CryoCOP has won the 4TU Carbon Removal Student Award with their innovative idea that helps to rebalance Earth’s carbon cycle. CryoCOP’s idea is to ‘capture pure CO2 using a cryogenic process at a disruptively low price’, thereby beating the other finalists MIONA and NYMPHAE in the Dutch student competition organized by the 4TU.Federation.
This initiative started in April 2021 after XPRIZE Foundation announced their 100M$ Carbon Removal challenge supported by the Elon Musk Foundation. This XPRIZE challenge is a special one, as it offered Student Teams a platform to compete with their 'idea proposals' for the 5M$ Student Demonstration Awards. This is where the 4TU.Federation stepped in and enabled students across the four Dutch technical universities to come together, form teams and compete for the XPRIZE's Student Demonstration Award on Carbon Removal.
Of the 4TU student teams that are competing, the jury selected CryoCOP as the frontrunner. According to Jury chair Rogier de Haan, Business Developer at University of Twente: 'Their proposal offers a real potential to achieve enough scale to have a serious impact on the carbon crisis we face. The team has already identified potential partners and locations, thereby showcasing Netherlands to be the optimal place to develop and test this technology ahead of the XPRIZE’s grand prize in 2025.’
Tonny Manalal (TU Delft), team leader of CryoCOP, says his team of seven students representing all four technical universities in the Netherlands could not be happier with the recognition as winners of the Dutch 4TU student challenge: 'This 4TU student competition enabled us to come together as a team. Within six months we moved from idea to prototyping. After testing and running all the numbers we were positively surprised how disruptive our solution can be when it comes to pricing. We are confident that our revolutionary solution, when realized, can really make an impact. We now eagerly wait to hear the verdict of the XPRIZE jury in November 2021 and will certainly continue to develop our solution.'
David Smeulders, Scientific Director of the 4TU Energy Centre and full professor of Energy Technology at the University of Eindhoven, awarded the finalist with their cheques. He emphasized the pressing need of the carbon removal challenge and the solutions it brings to the table in order to meet our emission targets. Smeulders said: 'Although the Dutch competition is now concluded, all teams have an equal chance with the US XPRIZE jury. Winning the XPRIZE student demonstration award will offer the teams further momentum to demonstrate their idea to the world.'
Maurits Burgering, Program Manager of the TTT-Circular Technology Fund, added: 'I am impressed with the pitches and congratulate the student teams on the progress made in such short time. We as the 4TU’s KTO network will continue to support them in the road ahead. The finalist teams are now also eligible to request funding from the Thematic Tech Transfer Fund to build a solid business case.'
About the 4TU finalists
With CryoCOP we are creating a revolutionary carbon capture technology that can capture pure CO2 using a cryogenic process at a disruptively low price. The technology enables us to capture CO2 that will eventually pay for itself by selling by-products such as energy, oxygen and nitrogen.
Microalgae are among the fastest growing organisms in the world and can capture up to 1.8 kg of CO2 per kg of biomass using photosynthesis. Microalgae production is still very expensive, but by using a set of innovative technologies we are making it a lot cheaper.
By converting the created algae biomass to a concrete-additive, the CO2 is stored and removed from the carbon cycle. At the same time, it will eliminate the carbon emissions made during concrete production. With a skilled, multidisciplinary team and support from the 4 technical universities of the Netherlands, Miona aims to capture CO2 from the air on a massive scale, while solving one of the greatest problems in the construction industry.
NYMPHAEA is a system blending together different biotechnological processes to capture CO2 from the atmosphere using microalgae, allowing the CO2 to be stored in concrete for over 100 years. NYMPHAEA units resemble floating water lilies which are easily scalable and can be deployed on lakes, rivers, and oceans. Besides a clean atmosphere, NYMPHAEA has additional revenue streams in biofertilizer and green hydrogen.
About the 4TU Carbon Removal Student challenge
This 4TU Student Challenge kicked off in May 2021. It called upon student carbon warriors to come with their ideas to remove CO2 from the air or oceans, and sequesters it in a durable way. Enthusiastic students from the technical universities in the Netherlands brainstormed ideas and formed teams. After six months of hard work, it led to very promising proposals that are now been submitted to the XPRIZE.
The XPRIZE will announce the winning student proposals of this global competition in November 2021. All teams have a winning chance with the XPRIZE jury for the dedicated 5M$ towards the Student Demonstration Awards.
About the XPRIZE Carbon Removal
XPRIZE Carbon Removal is aimed at tackling the biggest threat facing humanity - fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle. Funded by Elon Musk Foundation, this $100M competition is the largest incentive prize in history, an extraordinary milestone. This four-year global competition started in April 2021 and ends on Earth Day 2025.
Participants are invited to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans, and sequester it durably and sustainably. Any carbon negative solution is eligible: nature-based, direct air capture, oceans, mineralization, or anything else that achieves net negative emissions, sequesters CO2 durably, and show a sustainable path to achieving low cost at gigatonne scale.