Startup Carbin Minerals which utilizes mine waste’s potential for CO2 removal has won $1 million from XPRIZE, a competition led by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation that looks for innovative ideas for a better future.
“It’s huge for us as a company… It allows us to really accelerate our R&D and technology development and also the deployment of it. We’re working hard right now to place this technology out in the field and start working,” said Prof. Greg Dipple, founder of the project.
Canada-based Carbin Minerals was established by Mr Dipple, who teaches at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The startup is working on a technology that uses the natural ability of some minerals to absorb carbon in the waste of mining metals like nickel and cobalt.
Dipple, who has been working on this tech with his university team for 15 years, found that ultramafic rocks are highly effective in storing CO2 unless they are buried away from ambient air.
Ultramafic rocks are also rich in nickel and cobalt. When mined and grinded into sand particles, it maximizes their potential to sequester carbon dioxide.
Following tests led by the professor and the UBC team, it appeared that Giga Metals’ Turnagain project in Northern British Columbia could potentially become home to a CO2-absorbing mine.
Last year, a preliminary assessment indicated that a mine at Turnagain could produce 1,962 metric tons of the cobalt and 33,215 metric tons of the nickel required for EV batteries per year in the span of 37 years.
The tailings left behind after the nickel and cobalt are extracted from the ore at Turnagain are really good at absorbing CO2 out of the atmosphere.