The Keeling Curve Prize (KCP) has selected 10 winners for 2019, among them Opus 12 (Berkeley, California) which is developing a device that recycles CO₂ into cost-competitive chemicals and fuels. (Earlier post.)
The Opus 12 process—based on the electrochemical reduction of CO2—combines CO₂, water and electricity to produce higher-energy carbon-based products and a co-product of pure oxygen. This reaction is energetically uphill, so electricity must be added to drive the reaction forward, and it is not possible without a new family of CO₂-reducing catalysts.
The Opus 12 core invention combines new catalysts with a novel drop-in component that reprograms existing hardware to split CO₂. It’s a capital-light solution that takes advantage of technology that has been commercialized for decades.
The KCP winners, announced during a celebration at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Friday, 28 June, were chosen from almost 150 applications from all over the world. The prize recognizes promising projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or promote carbon uptake.
An international panel of judges from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors selected two winners in each of this year’s five prize categories:
- Carbon Capture & Utilization
- Energy Access
- Social & Cultural Impacts
Each of the 10 2019 Keeling Curve Prize winners will receive $25,000 in prize money. in addition to Opus 12, they are:
WILDCOAST (Imperial Beach, California) is working to secure a resilient coastline to help protect communities, economies and ecosystems from climate change impacts in the Gulf of California.
Solar Sister (Great Falls, Virginia) invests in women’s enterprises in off-grid communities in Africa.
African Clean Energy (Lesotho) produces cookstoves that reduce smoke emissions and solar electricity for small electronics and LED lighting.
Clean Energy Works (Washington, D.C.) is using pay-as-you-save financing to help transportation companies switch to electric buses.
CalCEF/Nexus (Oakland, California) is forming a Qualified Clean Energy Opportunity Zone Fund to deploy solar, wind, energy storage and other clean economy assets.
Jetty (Mexico City) is using technology to establish and enforce stricter service standards on private suppliers of loosely regulated "colectivo" services in Mexico City.
Three Wheels United (Bangalore, India) is using finance and technology to decarbonize the auto rickshaw market.
World Council of Churches (Geneva) aims to provide houses of worship with tools and know-how to enable reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through youth engagement.
Science Based Targets (Global) helps financial institutions use science-based targets to align their investment and lending portfolios with the Paris Agreement.
The Keeling Curve Prize is named for the Keeling Curve, which shows the accumulation of CO₂ in Earth’s atmosphere since the 1950s. The curve is based on decades of measurements taken from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, and is named for Charles David Keeling, who started the CO₂ monitoring program.