This prize would challenge teams to develop drop-in renewable fuels that can work with existing infrastructure (like pipelines, refineries).

We would like to learn from you:

  • What are the innovation gaps in this area?
  • What would the winning team need to do? What would be audacious but achievable targets?
  • What is the expected impact of this prize?

Hi @Jesse_Nyokabi, @b0bbybaldi and @CO2Cap_SysEng - One of the prize direction that we are considering is Alternative Fuels.

In your views what are the innovation gaps in this area and what could be an expected Impact for this competition?

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I certainly am not expert in this area. I do think it is very important, can get us to zero emissions much faster than trying to electrify everything with renewable electricity.
What are the innovation gaps in this area?
(1) Not enough attention to the major feedstock for producing renewable fuels–that’s solid waste /garbage, and how to convert it to fuels at best efficiency. Has to treat both plastics /polymers, saccharides, and oily materials.
(2) Efficiency gap. Energy need far exceeds potential supply at current energy conversion efficiency for liquid /gas fuels. Need engines /converters capable of best thermodynamic efficiency–60% is achievable.
(3) More innovation in transportation modes not presently in use, such as–
a. Replace air travel with competitive surface modes.
b. Better choices than buses and trains.
c. Reduce needs for ocean shipping. Maybe a causeway /bridge and rail line across the Bering Strait?
What would the winning team need to do? What would be audacious but achievable targets?
(1) Convert garbage or industrial waste such as black liquor with 50% energy efficiency to liquid or gaseous fuel. Hydrocracking may be the answer.
(2) Double transport efficiency–both trucks and light vehicles–100 mpg cars and 250 ton-mpg trucks are achievable.
What is the expected impact of this prize?
My view: (1) Slightly negative carbon intensity of the combined waste-transport and energy system. The methane /VOC releases from landfills are replaced by renewable CO2.
(2) Precious petroleum reserves are preserved for prudent use by future generations.
These are off-the-cuff remarks, not careful calculations.


Thanks @ErnieRogers for sharing these insights.

I was wrong–I forgot about the energy available in wastewater. Consider this–we humans don’t really “consume” all the goods we buy. We just use them and convert them to something else. Most of it ends up either in our garbage or goes down the drain in our wastewater. We can supply almost all of our needs by innovatively recycling all of our stuff. I was just moved to respond after reading this story about wastewater and algae. Algae story

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Hi @agval, @akb and @JohnBucknell - One of the prize direction that we are considering is Alternative Fuels.

In your views what are the innovation gaps in this area and what could be an expected Impact for this competition?

To add some context here:

  • Humanity is not on track to keep temperatures below 2ÂşC rise by 2050. Fossil fuels still represent over 80 percent of the global energy mix and contribute to three-quarters of harmful emissions.
  • Energy fuels modern life. Yet, millions lack access to electricity and billions to clean fuels. In 2050, most outstanding emissions will come from sectors hard to electrify, yet critical for economic activity and energy equity.
  • There is an urgent need to accelerate decarbonization while enabling sustainable economic development, universally and equitably.
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@Shashi, there are plenty of opportunities that could be tackled for alternative fuels.

To truly make an impact I would suggest pushing for liquid hydrogen, as well as the conversion of captured carbon fuels mixed with biomass for potential solutions since the applicability of such energy sources varies by locale.


Hi @ErnieRogers, @Febbie and @Ali - What are your thoughts on Alternative fuels that can work with existing infrastructure? What are the innovation gaps in this area?

Hi @b0bbybaldi, excellent point, and I’d added that at very least they should be evaluated differently for that one has the potential to eliminate carbon emissions, and the other will still introduce new carbon, and due to that different content, they’ll also present different performances.

@ErnieRogers, you raise such important points about the potential withheld in our waste, including wastewater; both are on the rise in volume. While energy is a key content of biomass, I wonder if there’s an opportunity to change the focus in this instance and tap into the full potential of biomass in various ways, from nutrients, through biodegradable materials to energy.
What do you think? What would be impactful? Should the focus be on energy from biomass, or can it be broader to eliminate waste and circulate resources?

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Hello, Eti, Okay, let’s talk about harvesting something other than energy for just a moment. Some waste water may not have much energy. The wastewater treatment plants here “clean” the water by aerobic digestion. The resulting water has a high nutrient content. It has been proposed to further clean the water and simultaneously produce some useful products by growing algae with it–the algae remove the excessive phosphorus and nitrogen in the water. The algae can be converted to fuel, high-value chemicals, and possibly food if the water is safe enough for that.


I like methanol as a fuel. It is fairly easy to make by many routes. It is an easy-to-store liquid at normal conditions and behaves well in engines of many kinds. It could be used for grid balancing for an all-renewable grid. A big plus: the combustion is very clean and produces only one pollutant–CO2. Methanol would be close to a net-zero fuel if it is manufactured using surplus renewable electricity in an electrochemical cell which converts CO2 to methanol, H3COH. There is current research at several labs to perfect this electrochemical process, and I may have read where a company is looking for a partner to build a pilot plant.

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Hi @josephjjames - Given your knowledge and experience, you might have inputs to share on the full potential of biomass in various ways, from nutrients, through biodegradable materials to energy.

Also, What should the focus be on energy from biomass, or can it be broader to eliminate waste and circulate resources?

Hi @evmorton, @jeffinerca and @ninalinAA - In your views, what chemical/substance has the potential to be alternative sustainable fuel? If XPRIZE comes up with a competition in this space what you think the winning team should demonstrate?

As I mentioned in other posting in the Energy Storage prize. Potential solutions here can be installing solar or wind solutions on oil production platforms and turning the tanks and vessels on the platforms into the energy storage facilities.
This PRIZE should be merged with Retrofitting infrastructure and Seasonal Energy storage PRIZES as they serve similar purpose.

The winning team should demonstrated sustainable technical solution to turn existing oil and gas infrastructure into a renewable energy solution with energy storage capacity.

We’re wordsmithing what we call the “winning-team-will statement” for this prize: a succinct description of what a competing team would need to do to win.

Here’s the current version, and I’d appreciate your thoughts:
Develop a renewables-based e-fuel, competitive with oil in cost, function, reach, and scale, to replace oil.

The next step are drafting the testing and judging criteria for the prize. Here’s what we have so far:

  • Capture clean, renewable energy at a rate of 33.6 MWh/day; at a minimum of 70% efficiency
  • Transfer 1,000 kWh for 10 days, simulating the primary energy trade**;
  • and Power 3 functions:
    - Electrification (using fuel cell technology) at a minimum of 65% conversion efficiency;
    - Combustion (using a RICE generator) for 10 hours a day, over 5 days, compared to #2 Diesel;
    - Heat Generation (using a Casting Solder Melting Pot) reaching 1000ÂşC twice, compared to #2 Diesel;
  • With the highest efficiency, safety, sustainability, and scalability scores;
  • At the lowest cost: no more than $0.374/kWh and with a target of $0.034/kWh

@ErnieRogers, @b0bbybaldi, @agval - We would love to hear your feedback on this wining team will statement and the testing and judging criteria.

I am shocked by how high the numerical targets are. I imagine this draft was developed by a chemical engineer? Maybe he could provide rationale for those targets. Also, asking to meet the reach and scale of fossil fuels seems impractical at the present rate of energy use (about 80 quads /year in the US). At least it would require access to a very large input stream. Some input streams, such as waste, provide energy. Hydrogen cannot be an energy provider–it carries energy produced in some other way. I suppose we should recognize that no single technology produces the vast energy we use today. Therefore, the renewable future will also be powered by a variety of sources. Oh, okay, I am pulling myself back to understanding. I suppose this prize is specific to production of a compatible liquid fuel.
Second concern–is it wise to list so many steps? (Bulleted items) Any one would be a wonderful development.
RICE–reciprocal internal combustion engine–oh, you mean a piston engine. Am I to suppose the 1000 C heat is to be derived from the engine waste heat? Excellent thought. Simple fuels such as methanol and methane work well in high-efficiency engines. Hmmm, hydrocrack waste and feed the gas–HCs, H2, and CO into a high-compression engine. That can produce electricity at high efficiency. If you count the reject heat as part of the energy product, then I can imagine that 70% energy conversion of energy is achievable.


@Shashi this is an ambitious prize, as it should be!

I would however focus on two segments which remain a bit confusing. The transfer of power seems a bit confusing on what primary energy trade refers to, perhaps if you elaborate that would work better.

The power section makes sense but it is a bit all over the place.

Finally, the last part, the cost, is a bit high on the top end of the range.


I support you @b0bbybaldi

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Hydrogen would be one of the biggest alternative fuel for the future.