WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) today announced the winners of the American-Made Carbon Management Collegiate Competition. The competition challenged students to help shape the future of carbon management by proposing regional carbon networks capable of transporting at least one million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year from industrial sources such as power plants or ethanol production facilities to locations that either use the CO2 to manufacture products or for permanent storage. Advancements in regional carbon networks are essential to meet the Biden Administration’s goals to achieve a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and economywide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“With this competition, DOE hopes to inspire the next generation of carbon management professionals to develop carbon dioxide transport infrastructure that will help drive technological innovation and emissions reductions, new regional economic development, and high-wage employment for communities across the United States,” said Brad Crabtree, Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.

The Carbon Management Collegiate Competition inspired students to envision a bright future for carbon capture, storage, and transportation industries. Participating students learned industry-relevant skills and gained hands-on experience in carbon management development. The competition encouraged teams of interdisciplinary students to optimize their proposed regional carbon networks across five parameters, including:

  • Economics and business models;
  • Operational safety considerations;
  • Life cycle analyses;
  • Projected impacts of climate change; and
  • Environmental justice, social impacts, and engagement.

A panel of expert judges from academic, federal government, and utility backgrounds reviewed the final submissions to determine the winning teams:

FIRST PLACE ($12,000 cash prize): Sequestration Squad, University of Michigan

The Sequestration Squad’s winning submission provided a hyperlocal blueprint for safe CO2 sequestration and integrative city planning in Houston, Texas with a replicable pipeline system designed for major metropolitan areas.

SECOND PLACE ($8,000 cash prize): Biggest Little Lithium, University of Nevada

Biggest Little Lithium’s submission combined direct air capture and electric transport to turn CO2 into profitable magnesium carbonate through modern chemical engineering and reduce the environmental footprint of the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine in Nevada.

THIRD PLACE ($5,000 cash prize): GreenHouston, University of Houston

The GreenHouston team proposed a CO2 transportation pipeline optimized based on cost and revenue of building the pipeline, safety and weather hazards, and the social impact on neighboring communities for four CO2 sources in Houston, Texas.

All participating teams had access to industry expert mentors at Entrepreneur Futures Network and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida throughout the competition. Teams also received eligibility feedback and guidance from DOE after submitting draft proposals at the midway check-in.

The winning teams will have the opportunity to present their winning proposals at DOE’s annual Carbon Management Research Project Review Meeting in August 2023.

The prize is part of the American-Made Challenges program, which incentivizes innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring by connecting the nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators to America’s National Labs and the private sector. FECM funded the Carbon Management Collegiate Competition, with administrative support from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. To learn more, please visit the prize website.