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Elon Musk gives Sydney students cash to explore CO2 removal

Elon Musk

Amazing news out of COP26: Elon Musk has awarded $338,000 to a University of Sydney team developing tech that permanently removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!

The team’s project, Sydney Sustainable Carbon, uses renewable solar power and has no links with carbon capture and storage or fossil fuel companies. They’re also collaborating with Australian renewables start-up Southern Green Gas, plus Corporate Carbon and Swiss Re.

If their tech is successful, they could receive even more money from the Musk Foundation (how’s a $50 million grant!) that would be used to create a new manufacturing sector and jobs in Australia.

What’s even cooler is that this funding could help develop a novel Australian approach in environmental technology known as Negative Emissions Technology. This involves the removal and permanent storage of carbon dioxide from the air, with no association to any fossil fuel source or company.

RELATED: What scientists are saying about COP26

Once removed from the atmosphere the CO2 could also be used to support sustainable agriculture and horticulture. For example, algae –a valuable source of high protein food and omega 3 food supplements – could be grown more effectively and sustainably using CO2. Australia’s organic fruits, vegetables, and flowers, typically grown in greenhouses, could also be grown more sustainably using this CO2.

The uni team is overseen by Professor Deanna D’Alessandro from the School of Chemistry and the University of Sydney Nano Institute and the School of Chemistry, is led by PhD student Eleanor Kearns.

“Removing COfrom the atmosphere is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time, and Australia is uniquely positioned to deliver the solution. It has around 300 million hectares of non-arable land with high solar intensity,” says Professor D’Alessandro. “We hope the recognition brought about by this award will encourage the Australian Government to support Negative Emissions Technology in the near future.”

Inspired to do your part to reverse climate change? Consider a STEM career that helps fight global warming. We cover seven in the video below.

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