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Virgin Earth Challenge

 

Virgin Earth Challenge

The Virgin Earth Challenge logo.

The Virgin Earth Challenge is a competition offering a $25 million prize for whoever can demonstrate a commercially viable design which results in the permanent removal of greenhouse gases out of the Earth's atmosphere to contribute materially in global warming avoidance.[1] The prize was conceived and financed by Sir Richard Branson, a successful British entrepreneur, and was announced in London on 9 February 2007 by Branson and former US Vice President and 2007 Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, creator of the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth on climate change.[2]

Among more than 2600 applications, 11 finalists were announced on November 2, 2011. These are Biochar Solutions, from the US; Biorecro, Sweden; Black Carbon, Denmark; Carbon Engineering, Canada; Climeworks, Switzerland; COAWAY, US; Full Circle Biochar, US; Global Thermostat, US; Kilimanjaro Energy, US; Smartstones - Olivine Foundation, Netherlands, and The Savory Institute, US.[3]

Contents

  • The challenge 1
  • Competing technologies 2
    • Biochar 2.1
    • BECCS (Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage) 2.2
    • Direct air capture 2.3
    • Enhanced weathering 2.4
    • Grassland restoration 2.5
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

The challenge

The Prize will be awarded to "a commercially viable design which, achieves or appears capable of achieving the net removal of significant volumes of anthropogenic, atmospheric GHGs each year for at least 10 years", with significant volumes specified as "should be scalable to a significant size in order to meet the informal removal target of 1 billion tonnes of carbon-equivalent per year".[4] It should be noted that one tonne of carbon-equivalent (C) equals 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). (Because of the relationship between their atomic weights, more precisely 44/12.) At present, fossil fuel emissions are around 6.3 gigatons of carbon.[5]

The prize will initially only be open for five years, with ideas assessed by a panel of judges including Richard Branson, Al Gore and Crispin Tickell (British diplomat), as well as scientists James E. Hansen, James Lovelock and Tim Flannery. If the prize remains unclaimed at the end of five years the panel may elect to extend the period.

Around two hundred billion metric tons of carbon dioxide have accumulated in the atmosphere since the beginning of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Virgin Earth Challenge is similar in concept to other high technology competitions, such as the Orteig Prize for flying across the Atlantic, and the Ansari X Prize for spaceflight.

Competing technologies

The eleven finalists represent five competing technologies, some being represented by multiple finalists.

Biochar

Biochar, created by pyrolysis of biomass. Pyrolysis is a process where biomass is partially combusted in an oxygen-limited environment, which produces a char rich in carbon. This char can be distributed in soils as a soil amendment.[6]

Finalists competing with biochar designs:

  • Biochar Solutions, US
  • Black Carbon, Denmark
  • Full Circle Biochar, US

BECCS (Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage)

Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), combines combustion or processing of biomass with geologic carbon capture and storage. BECCS is applied to industries such as electrical power, combined heat and power, pulp and paper, ethanol production, and biogas production.

There is 550 000 tonnes CO2/year in total BECCS capacity operating, divided between three different facilities (as of January 2012).[7][8][9][10][11]

BECCS was pointed out in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a key technology for reaching low carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration targets.[12] The negative emissions that can be produced by BECCS has been estimated by the Royal Society to be equivalent to a 50 to 150 ppm decrease in global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations[13] and according to the International Energy Agency, the BLUE map climate change mitigation scenario calls for more than 2 gigatonnes of negative CO2 emissions per year with BECCS in 2050.[14] According to the OECD, "Achieving lower concentration targets (450 ppm) depends significantly on the use of BECCS".[15]

The sustainable technical potential for net negative emissions with BECCS has been estimated to 10 Gt of CO2 equivalent annually, with an economic potential of up to 3.5 Gt of CO2 equivalent annually at a cost of less than 50 €/tonne, and up to 3.9 Gt of CO2 equivalent annually at a cost of less than 100 €/tonne.[16]

Imperial College London, the UK Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, the Walker Institute for Climate System Research, and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change issued a joint report on carbon dioxide removal technologies as part of the AVOID: Avoiding dangerous climate change research program, stating that "Overall, of the technologies studied in this report, BECCS has the greatest maturity and there are no major practical barriers to its introduction into today’s energy system. The presence of a primary product will support early deployment."[17]

Finalist competing with BECCS design:

Direct air capture

Direct Air Capture is the process of capturing carbon dioxide directly from ambient air using solvents, filters or other methods. Subsequent to being captured, the carbon dioxide would be stored with carbon capture and storage technologies to keep it permanently out of the atmosphere.,[13][18]

Finalists competing with direct air capture designs:

  • Carbon Engineering, Canada
  • Climeworks, Switzerland
  • Coaway, US
  • Global Thermostat, US
  • Kilimanjaro Energy, US

Enhanced weathering

Enhanced weathering refers to a chemical approach to in-situ carbonation of silicates, where carbon dioxide is combined through natural weathering processes with mined minerals, such as olivine.[19]

Finalist competing with enhanced weathering design:

  • Smartstones - Olivine Foundation, The Netherlands

Grassland restoration

Changed management methods for grasslands can significantly increase the uptake of carbon dioxide into the soil, creating a carbon sink. This and other land use change methods is not generally considered among negative emission technologies because of uncertain long-term sequestration permanence.[13]

Finalist competing with grassland restoration design:

  • The Savory Institute, US

See also

References


-- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p
  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Fischer, B.S., N. Nakicenovic, K. Alfsen, J. Corfee Morlot, F. de la Chesnaye, J.-Ch. Hourcade, K. Jiang, M. Kainuma, E. La Rovere, A. Matysek, A. Rana, K. Riahi, R. Richels, S. Rose, D. van Vuuren, R. Warren, (2007)“Issues related to mitigation in the long term context”, In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change [B. Metz, O.R. Davidson, P.R. Bosch, R. Dave, L.A. Meyer (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ R. D. Schuiling and P. Krijgsman: (2006), "2"Enhanced Weathering: An Effective and Cheap Tool to Sequester Co, Climatic Change, Volume 74, Numbers 1-3, 349-354.

External links

  • Virgin Earth Challenge
  • AVOID research project "The Potential for the Deployment of Negative Emissions Technologies in the UK"
  • Global CCS Institute report on BECCS
  • The International Biochar Initiative
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