Three Canadian companies among finalists of Musk-funded XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition

Skyrenu, Arca, and Planetary are entering the last stage of the $100-million, four-year-long competition.

Three Canadian cleantech startups are among 20 finalists competing for up to $50 million from the XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition. 

Nova Scotia-based cleantech startup CarbonCure Technologies took home the grand prize from the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE in 2021.

Funded by the Musk Foundation, the four-year-long competition aims to combat climate change with $100 million in incentives for innovators who can create and demonstrate solutions that remove and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere or the oceans. XPRIZE claims over 1,300 teams developed new ideas for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) across the competition’s four tracks: air, ocean, land, and rocks. 

The finalists are now challenged to remove 1,000 net tonnes of CO2 during the final year of the competition as they vie to be crowned the winner in April 2025. Finalists will also be judged on the potential of their tech to scale to the megaton-capture level in the short-term and gigaton-capture level by 2050. 

Canada has coast-to-coast representation in the running for the $50-million grand prize. In the “rocks” track is Arca, a Vancouver-based startup looking to activate magnesium silicate in mine tailings, a term for leftover and useless mining byproducts. In turn, the activated tailings capture the carbon from the air. 

“Geologists will tell you that 99 percent of the Earth’s carbon is stored in rocks. That’s why we’re focusing on carbon mineralization, the natural process that transforms carbon into rock,“ Arca co-founder and head of science Greg Dipple said in a statement. “After 20 years of academic research, and having worked with dozens of mining companies, we have developed the technology to accelerate mineralization and we’re now deploying this on site.” 

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In the “air” track is Sherbrooke, Qué.-based startup Skyrenu, which is combining a direct air capture (DAC) system with a rock carbonation process through treated asbestos mine tailings. Skyrenu was also one of the startups tapped by carbon-capture startup Deep Sky as it pieced together existing technologies to build large scale infrastructure across Canada. 

The final Canadian startup in contention is Dartmouth, N.S.-based Planetary Technologies. Competing in the “oceans” category, Planetary has developed an Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) process that removes carbon from the atmosphere and reduces local ocean acidity by adding an antacid to the water. Then, using a network of tanks, sensors, and pumps, its software platform monitors and controls the antacid process to ensure it stays within safe limits. Planetary previously made the 2022 Foresight 50 list, which deems Canada’s 50 “most investable” cleantech companies.

XPRIZE says the finalists were selected based upon their performance in operations, sustainability, and cost. The competition has already distributed $5 million across 23 student teams, including Skyrenu, and $15 million among 15 “milestone winners,” including Planetary. Thirty million will also be distributed amongst the runners up in April 2025. 

Dartmouth cleantech startup CarbonCure Technologies took home the $7.5 million USD grand prize from NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE in 2021, which offered $20 million to startups that captured and converted industrial CO2 emissions into usable products. 

Feature image courtesy Skyrenu.

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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