Monash students win $340,000 award funded by Elon Musk - Education Matters Magazine
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Monash students win $340,000 award funded by Elon Musk

A team of students from Monash University have won $USD250,000 ($340,172) as part of a competition sponsored by Elon Musk.

The XPRIZE Carbon Removal Student Award, sponsored by Elon Musk’s XPRIZE Foundation, awards student teams tackling climate change through the development of new technical solutions for atmospheric carbon capture and conversion.

Chief Executive Officer of MC3 and Bachelor of Engineering and Commerce student Emily Qiao said the team focused on the capture of CO2 via bio-sequestration.

“[We] focused on the capture of CO2 from the ocean and air via artificial forestry and microalgae cultures in novel designed floating photobioreactors,” Qiao said.

“The biomass produced from these carbon farms will then be utilised downstream, powered by bioenergy, in their transformation into cross-laminated timber, for sustainable buildings, and biochar, a charcoal that can be used for soil amendment.”

Director of the Woodside Monash Energy Partnership Professor Paul Webley said he was incredibly proud to have mentored and set up the team.

“It’s incredible to see this student team’s work receive international support and recognition from the likes of Elon Musk and XPRIZE,” Webley said.

“For a relatively new student team to achieve this milestone just as they begin their journey to develop sustainable carbon capture technologies, is an astounding feat.”

Assistant Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Tim Wilson said the award highlighted Australia’s ability to produce new low emissions technologies.

“Australia can excel at carbon capture and storage thanks to our natural geography and Monash University students are leading the way,” Wilson said.

“Their expertise and international collaborative approach will help the world reach carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Faculty Dean of Engineering Professor Elizabeth Croft said the team’s achievement is testament to the ingenuity of Monash students being able to contribute solutions to climate change even before they graduate.

“Our Monash Student Teams Initiative has provided our students the platform and opportunity to shine in a high-profile global competition with truly world-changing impact,” Croft said.

“We are extremely proud of their efforts.”

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