XPRIZE Paving Resilient Cities

This competition could focus on one area or be a multitrack competition in 3 tracks, where teams could compete in one or more tracks:

  1. Novel materials to enhance climate resilience. E.g., permeable materials, fire-resistant building materials, air-purifying paint, and so on. Advantage if can be retrofitted to existing infrastructure.
  2. Novel materials to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions. Materials to break down or capture emitted particles. E.g., car paint to capture emissions, substances that can break down smog and emissions such as nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, MOFs (metal-organic frameworks) in products to capture carbon. Advantage if can be retrofitted to existing infrastructure.
  3. Novel materials to replace steel and concrete.

We would like to learn from the Community:

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

Hi @Sev, @darlenedamm and @carlbozzuto - One of the prize direction that we are looking is in Identifying novel material for climate resilience and keeping the global temperatures at bay.
In your opinion what are the innovation gaps in this area and what could be the expected impact for this prize competition?

Hi Shashi, Novel materials that enhance climate resilience in my inventions are: the formulation of my buoyant flakes, the phytoplankton they help flourish, and the dimethyl sulfide (DMS) that they release which nucleates cooling marine clouds; the dense, gas-rich brine generated by my Ice Shields; the monodisperse nanobubbles formed by my Fiztops; the monodisperse microbubbles used by my CO2 separation technology, by fermenters, in ship hull lubrication, for isothermal distillation, in my Winwick photobioreactors and drillhole reactors; the tiny, monodisperse salt crystals used to create my PET/Ti foil diffusers; the low-micron droplets and sea salt aerosols generated by my Seatomisers; the iron-rich aerosols that photocatalytically turn atmospheric methane and smog into less harmful products; and the gaseous carbon generated by HiiROC plasma torches which also generate emissions-free hydrogen and either geochar/biochar for soil remediation and various nanocarbon products, including turbostratic graphene for Supercapp production that may eventually replace most heavy chemical batteries and transport fuels.
The innovation gaps in most of these is simply the lack of the experimentation and development that shows that they are useful climate solutions. Well-crafted XPrize competitions themselves could deliver the desired impacts.

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Thanks @Sev for sharing these insights. We want to further learn from you in case we design a competition in this area:

  • In your views what the winning team should be asked to do?
  • What would be an audacious but achievable targets?

Hi Shashi, As there are many ways to help address our many different climate problems, some requiring modest, some immense effort to reach the same Technical Readiness Level, it seems to me that XPrizes of a given value should only require team effort commensurate with the prize value - perhaps 5% of the value of the prize. Hence, for one broad method each team might only be required to deliver proof of concept experimental results, whilst a different broad method might require each team to deliver a certain actual amount of climate benefit - perhaps a given amount of CO2 separation, a given amount of solar reflection, a given amount of carbon sequestration that is expected to last more than a century, a given amount of ocean cooling, etc. Should this idea be adopted, then XPrize might need itself to fund the modelling studies that independently established the net climate worth of each finalist’s solution, as well as its risks. Because of the diversity of solutions and their requirements to achieve each TRL, setting targets might not be the best way to proceed. Leave that to other, more narrowly-focussed competitions.

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Some context for this prize idea:

  • Humanity is not on track to keep temperatures below 2ºC rise by 2050.
  • In favorable scenarios, net-zero emissions will only be reached by 2070.
  • In 2040, 64 percent of the global population will be living in built urban areas, while cities already emit around 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Buildings use 31 percent of energy and emit 17.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and nearly 40 percent of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions.
  • As temperatures continue to rise, so will the intensity and frequency of some climate and weather extremes.

There is an urgent need to rethink our existing built environment.

  • What if we could remove the bulk of emissions at source, using the built environment, before reaching the atmosphere?
  • What if it could enhance the resilience of communities?
  • What if it could be utilized to enable energy transitions?

Hi @Shashi - this is an interesting article about how geothermal can be a solution for the building sector. I’ve heard that one of the most expensive parts of making geothermal scalable is the cost of drilling.

I feel like that should be a key area for innovation (after all, if the Boring Company can transform drilling for large projects, shouldn’t someone be able to do it on a much smaller scale? And wouldn’t there be a lot of other applications and market opportunities for low-cost drilling?) https://www.forbes.com/sites/heathersenison/2019/09/17/great-for-women-who-love-science-and-tech-dandelion-energy-ceo-chats-geothermal-tech-women-in-stem-fields/?sh=4267fac21a36

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Focusing on retrofitting the existing environment. Where do you see the key opportunity to intervene? Where is activity, funds, or attention may be lacking?

Novel materials to enhance climate resilience., E.g., permeable materials, fire-resistant building materials, air-purifying paint, and so on.
or
Novel materials to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions. Materials to break down or capture emitted particles.

Hi @KeithDPatch, @bartc - What are your thoughts on retrofitting the existing environment.
In your views where should XPRIZE focus, novel materials to enhance climate resilience or novel materials to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions and why?

Hi @mje1398, @agulo, @asbock2 and @camly.tran - In your views, what should be the focus of this prize idea - Novel materials to enhance climate resilience or Novel materials to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions?

Do you think this prize is audacious enough? If so, what should be the Impact of this prize?

I suggest to consult with Neri Oxman on the subject of Novel Materials. She opens a new lab in New York city and she is a subject matter expert in the space of materials.

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Hi @hopkepk, @agulo, @vmehra813 - What are your thoughts on retrofitting the existing environment.
In your views where should XPRIZE focus, novel materials to enhance climate resilience or novel materials to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions and why?

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:
Demonstrate the fast, cost-effective application of novel materials to the existing built environment to reduce carbon footprint and enhance resilience.

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

  • Sustainable, net-positive impact resource materials: for example, cross-land timber is in direct competition with food production (land use).
  • Competitive with existing materials in cost and performance.

@Sev, @darlenedamm, @kvancamp, @hh27 - We would love to hear your thoughts and inputs.

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Hi @carlbozzuto, @bartc and @KeithDPatch - It would be nice to hear your feedback on the wining team will statement and the testing and judging criteria mentioned above.

Hi @rgschreib, @swihera, @ACESChris and @bontempi - In this prize we would like teams to demonstrate the fast, cost-effective application of novel materials to the existing built environment to reduce carbon footprint and enhance resilience.

  • Do you think this prize would be audacious enough? if so, what is the expected impact of such a competition?
  • What should be an essential competition metrics for such a competition?

Geothermal is great when you can tap into it. Siting Geothermal plants is Geology dependent and most areas may not be suitable or practical to do this. There also may be considerations as to whether drilling into some of these areas could set off earthquakes in an area predisposed to them. Geologists would really have to look at that.

It has been proven time again that for dwellings the best and least expensive Energy Use Reducer, which would also be a Carbon Reducer, is to properly insulate all homes where people live. By maintaining a more constant temperature within the home you need less heating and cooling. Also, using recycled materials to make the insulating material from would be an added benefit. This would reduce solid waste that has to be either burned or dumped into a land fill. It would be great to see some movement towards that and ideas in this area.

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Shashi, The winning teams in the Carbon XPRIZE produced concrete that had adsorbed CO2 and was stronger than conventional concrete. Concrete buildings also absorb CO2 from the air during their operating life. If the cement production process provided the CO2 for adsorption, a very low carbon intensity material could be used for buildings.

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Based on the advice of our founder and chairman, Peter Diamandis and other experts, we have changed the focus of this prize.

Following is the revised wining-team-will-statement:
Develop a modular, sustainable, resilient and competitive alternative to the asphalt paved roads. In 45ºC, releasing zero particulates and emissions, driving the lowest temperature rises, no higher than +6ºC in the evening, and most effective in flash flood mitigation.

Following is a draft testing and judging criteria for this prize:

  • Develop an alternative to asphalt paved road
  • Modular, assembled like lego (to improve repair and materials EoL)
  • In 45ºC, a tropical (hot temperatures and monsoon season), tree-less urban environment, demonstrate:
  • Comparable performance with the existing asphalt paved road across bearing capacity and safety (graded friction)
    • Bonus points for added smart safety features (tertiary scoring)
  • No release of harmful SOA particulates and GHGs from the road
    • Bonus points for breaking down particulates. (secondary scoring)
  • With the least temperature rises, no more than 2ºC during the day and 6°C in the evening.
    • Bonus points: for cooling the surrounding environment and/or extra points for capturing the heat as energy for use. (primary scoring)
  • And most effective flooding mitigation: prevent a flash flood
  • Lifetime: 25 years (comparable to asphalt paved roads)
  • At the lowest cost
  • Sustainable at scale:
    • Measuring LCA (GWP and water use), cradle to grave
      • GWP for 20km must not exceed 52,264,916.06 kg.
    • Evaluating source materials towards net-positive impact. Virgin Petrochemical materials are excluded from competing.
    • Assessing end-of-life circularity: teams to share EoL plans in line with the waste management hierarchy (e.g., recovery and reuse in housing).

@Lee, @carlbozzuto, @Sev, @darlenedamm, @AnaFortuna, @KeithDPatch - We would love to have your feedback on the revised wining-team-will statement and testing and judging criteria of this prize. Thanks.

Hi @jagos.radovic, @jwangjun, @mje1398, @asbock2, @camly.tran - Given your area of expertise, we feel you might be able to provide feedback on the prize metrics of Climate-Proof Cities.