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NETL Providing Technical Expertise for Direct Air Capture Prize Competitions
Animated team of researchers standing in front of a direct air capture system.

NETL will provide technical support and expertise to award the American-Made Direct Air Capture (DAC) Prizes, a series of interconnected competitions offering up to $115 million to advance carbon dioxide (CO2) removal technologies from hard-to-decarbonize sectors of the U.S. economy.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), the DAC Pre-Commercial Prizes offer up to $15 million split among two competitions: the DAC Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Incubator Prize and the DAC Pre-Commercial Technology Prize.

“Addressing legacy pollution already in our atmosphere is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” said NETL’s Andrew Jones, technology manager, Carbon Dioxide Removal. “This prize competition provides the transformative investments needed to scale up the commercial use of technologies that can remove or capture CO2 from the accumulated pool of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and help the nation achieve its net-zero greenhouse gas goals.”

DAC is an emerging technology that works by processing air from the atmosphere, rather than a power plant or factory flue gas to capture CO2, thereby addressing both current and legacy emissions. DAC has been identified as an important tool to meet the Biden Administration’s goals calling for net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.

Together, the DAC prizes are designed to strengthen the country’s energy prosperity and advance just and sustainable decarbonization efforts. The components of the program and their specific objectives and goals are:

·       The DAC EPIC Incubator Prize will award cash prizes to incubator teams that submit creative and impactful plans to support DAC innovators and create meaningful mentorship, education and training opportunities while initiating meaningful community engagement. It is designed to support both emerging and established DAC incubators and accelerators in implementing those plans to develop strong clusters, resources and connections for energy startups and entrepreneurs. The prize competition will support the surrounding ecosystem to help move technologies from an idea to equitable, commercial impact.  Competitors will win increasingly larger prizes as they successfully meet technology milestones over the course of three phases: Think It, Move It and Prove It.

·       The DAC Pre-Commercial Technology Prize will award cash prizes to teams that identify a critical need in the DAC industry, develop a solution to address this gap and test the idea to a degree of scale. The prize competition focuses on developing hard technology DAC innovations, such as novel materials or systems integration. It aims to accelerate the steps of ideation and entrepreneurship needed to prepare a technology and business for commercialization. The intent is to deliver scalable and environmentally responsible DAC technologies in pursuit of a domestic DAC industry and to maximize the benefits of the clean energy transition as the nation works to curb the climate crisis, empower workers and advance environmental justice. Competitors will win increasingly larger prizes as they successfully meet technology milestones over the course of three phases: Develop, Design and Deliver. Recognizing the significance of iteration in the innovation process and understanding the value of offering multiple chances for emergent technology developers, DOE will launch a second round of the Develop, Design and Deliver phases in the future.

The DAC Prize program recognizes that there are numerous steps involved in moving an innovation from an idea to marketable product. Together, the DAC Pre-Commercial Prizes will advance technological innovation, support new businesses and help to achieve emissions reduction targets. Competitors choose which prize best fits where they are in the innovation process, work to achieve milestones and receive funding and other incentives along the way.

Click here for more information about the American-Made Direct Air Capture (DAC) Prizes.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By using its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant, and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.