News / Edmonton

Edmonton lab makes the finals for global Carbon XPrize

Ingenuity Lab on of nine Canadian finalists for $20M prize to tackle climate change and create profit at the same time.

Ice floats in the Arctic near Svalbard, Norway, in this file photo. At current carbon emission levels, studies suggest the Arctic will likely be free of sea ice in September by mid-century.

(Dirk Notz via Associated Press

Ice floats in the Arctic near Svalbard, Norway, in this file photo. At current carbon emission levels, studies suggest the Arctic will likely be free of sea ice in September by mid-century.

Carbon is topical in Alberta in mostly negative terms, with many concerned by a new tax on the stuff that could increase their cost of living or by the undeniable effects of the climate change it creates. 

But at Ingenuity Lab it's the exact opposite.

The Edmonton futurist technology cluster discovered this past weekend it's among 27 finalists for the the $20-million Carbon XPrize, a global competition to create technology that converts CO2 into valuable products.

Carlo Montemagno heads the provincially-funded lab and has engineered its honoured technology, which mimics the sequestration of carbon found in plants to take carbon out of the atmosphere and make usable products with it. 

"It will be validation of our technology, for sure," Montemagno said of the XPrize. "The competition provides an incentive to energize people to work faster and be more creative."

Ingenuity Labs' technology takes CO2 from flue gas and builds the carbons up into long chains, with the result being that 47 different specialty chemicals can be produced—and sold for profit.

Montemagno said that plants require a significant amount of energy to grow, so they’re not very efficient at sequestering carbon to produce value-added chemicals. But in his technology, no energy has to be spent to keep an organism alive, so all the output can go toward the products that one wants to create.

``This efficiency is game-changing, opening up new opportunities for the sustainable production of products we all need from waste."

Eight other Canadian companies have advanced to the Carbon XPrize semifinals.

Montemagno said he's driven to find solutions people haven't dreamed of rather than settle only for what's possible now.

"Many people have lost faith and define the world based on what we can do today versus the potential of what we could do tomorrow," he said.

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