A Year After the Carbon XPRIZE: How CarbonCure Accelerated Innovation and Growth

In April 2021, CarbonCure was named a USD $7.5 million grand prize winner of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. The win was a huge inflection point in our growth journey and a lot has happened in the 12 short months since the grand prize was announced:

  • The climate tech industry has evolved, increasing the demand for low carbon solutions and high-quality carbon removal credits.
  • To date, our technologies have resulted in more than 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide reduced and removed from the air. About half of those carbon dioxide (CO₂) savings occurred in just the past year.
  • We commercialized our Carbon XPRIZE-winning technology, CarbonCure Reclaimed Water, which is now being adopted by concrete producers to complement CarbonCure Ready Mix.
  • Our growth has accelerated faster than ever before, and we’ve made huge progress on our mission to annually reduce and remove 500 million metric tons of CO₂ by 2030.

The Evolution of the Climate Technology Landscape

While the Carbon XPRIZE was awarded to CarbonCure in April 2021, the contest actually began way back in 2015 — before the terms “climate technology” or “carbontech” were even commonly used. The competition took place in three rounds over four and a half years and challenged more than 2,000 applicants to develop breakthrough technologies to convert captured CO₂ into usable products, with the ultimate goal of tackling climate change. 

In parallel to our progression through the XPRIZE journey, governments, industries and consumers began to take more robust action on climate change. We saw governments and industries setting net zero commitments and the demand for low carbon products dramatically increased. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that carbon dioxide removal is essential to global climate goals, naming concrete as a pathway for permanent carbon storage of “centuries or more.” And on the supply side, carbon removal credits have become a popular way for companies to counterbalance carbon emissions where they can’t currently do it themselves.

Our XPRIZE win, against the backdrop of a more informed and action-oriented world, has put us in a great position to accelerate the adoption of our technologies to bring the concrete industry closer to decarbonization and permanently remove carbon emissions from the air to help organizations meet their net zero targets.

The Commercialization of Our Winning Technology

During the final round of the Carbon XPRIZE competition, Team CarbonCure demonstrated our newest innovation which applies our carbon mineralization technology to reclaimed water — the wash water collected at concrete plants — to enable the production of concrete with less water, less virgin cement material and a smaller carbon footprint. 

“We found a way to not only participate in the XPRIZE with new technology but also with a technology that was market-ready a few months later,” said Travis Janke, Senior Director of Product Development at CarbonCure. “Accomplishing that, on top of the grand prize, was very exciting and rewarding.”

Following the competition, our first commercial CarbonCure Reclaimed Water installation took place at Trio Ready-Mix’s new concrete plant in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Trio’s equipment for managing water produced from truck washouts, returned concrete and other onsite activities made it a great candidate to trial the system. 

The implementation was a huge success. Today, Trio is replacing cement content by 3% with CarbonCure Reclaimed Water — and gaining up to an additional 4% reduction with CarbonCure Ready Mix. The solution is now used in more than 75% of Trio’s produced concrete.

“Our initial motivator was environmental, not monetary. However, we have seen a great return on investment. The virgin cement replacement is where the true environmental and cost savings are, but the water treatment and savings on the cost of safe fines disposal are also significant,” said Stephen Hay, General Manager at Trio Ready-Mix.

Moving Toward Our 500 Million Metric Ton Goal

The XPRIZE win was a defining moment for CarbonCure and a major milestone for our trajectory as a business—and to our progress toward our mission to annually reduce and remove 500 million metric tons of CO2 from the air, which is equivalent to taking 100 million cars off the road each year. 

Some of the signs of our progress over the past 12 months include:

  • Accelerated Growth: Over the last ten years, we've been scaling our core technology, CarbonCure Ready Mix, and today boast 550 systems sold across 25 countries around the world. That’s almost double the installations pre-XPRIZE.
  • Roadmap Validation: Not only did the grand prize place CarbonCure firmly on the map as a leader in the global race to develop climate solutions, but it also provided validation of the work our team has done over the last decade. Our team has never been more motivated to tackle all the items on our roadmap. 
  • Investors Relations: Our performance in the Carbon XPRIZE also served as a point of validation for investors who are looking to place their capital in a solid company with a strong product-market fit. 
  • Employee Recruitment and Retention: The Carbon XPRIZE win raised CarbonCure’s profile among job seekers and job candidates for engineering, marketing and sales roles. Since April 2021, we've almost doubled the size of our talented team. People are really excited to work for a company that won the XPRIZE and aims to win the fight for a better future.

What’s Next for CarbonCure?

CarbonCure will continue to ramp up the deployment of our proven climate technologies, innovate to bring new innovations to market that permanently remove or reduce CO₂, and accelerate our growth in international markets. We also have new, stackable technologies in the pipeline, providing even greater benefits to concrete producers and the environment alike. 

“The whole objective of the XPRIZE is to incentivize teams to come up with groundbreaking ideas that can change the world,” said Jennifer Wagner, CarbonCure President and the leader of Team CarbonCure during the XPRIZE contest. “We've more than demonstrated that we have the right technology and people to really scale climate solutions that can have an impact today and into the future.” 

For more information about our 500 million metric ton mission, read our ebook: CarbonCure’s Path to the Decarbonization of Concrete.

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