Sydney “WhaleX” Team amongst the finalists for $1M first stage prizes of the Elon Musk $100M XPRIZE for Carbon Removal
A twelve-person team from Sydney based company the Ocean Nourishment Corporation is amongst the 60 finalists for the first stage $1M XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition phase 1 awards funded by Elon Musk.
The team known as “WhaleX” are simulating whale eXcreta (poo) to promote the growth of phytoplankton, the marine organisms which they believe are key to the successful economical capture of carbon dioxide at gigatonne scale.
The cycling process from the marine snow created in the deep ocean (greater than 500m) is calculated, at scale, to safely remove Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere at US$49/ tonne and sequester it for many hundreds to one thousand years.
Their entry is based on the Ocean Nourishment principles first enunciated by the late Professor Ian S.F. Jones in 1994, who passed away at the end of 2021.
Ian’s great friend and CEO of the sister organisation Ocean Nourishment Foundation, Professor Rob Wheen, from the University of Sydney, was over the moon to hear the news. “It is great to see our continuing progress in honour of Ian’s significant legacy”. His son Peter Wheen, the founding Chair of the Ocean Nourishment Corporation (established in 2004) added “when I first saw the Ocean Nourishment concept in 2003, I thought it was the idea of century. I sill do”
Dr Edwina Tanner, The WhaleX Project Manager and Biogeochemist also from the University of Sydney, who recently conceived the whale excreta biomicry development of the Ocean Nourishment concept, said she was “delighted with the experiment undertaken as part of the first stage of the XPRIZE” and is already preparing for the next stage.
“It is essential that a lot of scientific research is undertaken at each step of the journey to make sure the approach is not damaging any part of the marine environment. The team are closely mimicking a process that has been happening for millions of years and we are confident we can do this safely”, she said.
Managing Director and fellow founder of Ocean Nourishment Corporation (ONC), who appeared alongside Jones in the 2007 BBC world documentary ‘5 ways to save the world’, John Ridley, said “we have been working on this idea for nearly two decades and it is amazing the ground swell of interest we have received in the last 4 months”.
The team comprising of Lakshmi Bala, Dr Sid French, Dr Samantha Lavender, Sid Khamis, Gopala Maurer, Paul Mensh, John Ridley, Dr Dave Rissik, Jill Storey, Dr Edwina Tanner, Peter Wheen and Prof Rob Wheen has been announced as being in the top 60 applicants from some 500 worldwide approved entries out of an original 1100 applicants for its XPRIZE Carbon Removal challenge.
“Ranking in the top 60 teams puts WhaleX in position to be among the 15 winners announced on Earth Day, April 22, that will each win a $1 million, phase 1 award, so fingers crossed” Ridley said.
Sid French, a founder of the Ocean Nourishment Foundation and original investor into Ocean Nourishment knows that “several $1 million, and then some, are required to take this global opportunity to scale – but I am confident that with the current level of investor interest the team will reach its next XPRIZE milestone experimental goal and drive forward to a viable prototype for what may prove to be a globally essential process. Furthermore, the co-benefits from additional fish production arising from the concept to help indigenous and artisanal communities are truly exciting.”
The $100M XPRIZE for Carbon Removal global contest is funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation.
It is aimed at fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle through the removal of over 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The $100 million competition is the largest incentive prize in history.
If you want to see more about the amazing WhaleX project check out www.whalex.com.au
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