The selection earlier this year of Calgary-based cleantech, Carbon Upcycling Technologies (CUT), as one of 10 finalists in the prestigious global NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition underlined the city’s progress towards becoming a premier green energy hub.
CUT is one of four Canadian companies, and the only one in Western Canada, to be shortlisted for the $20-million prize designed to develop breakthrough technologies that profitably convert harmful CO2 emissions into high-value, everyday products like building materials and alternative fuels. The winner will be announced in 2020.
Founded in 2014 by CEO Apoorv Sinha, a chemical engineering graduate from Georgia Institute of Technology, CUT’s proprietary process combines waste CO2 gas with solid feedstock to produce stable nanoparticles that can be used to strengthen materials like plastic and concrete.
“Making the finals is a huge accomplishment and validates that our technology turns carbon into a valuable material that can benefit business.” Says Mr. Sinha.
In reaction to CUT’s selection as a finalist, Alberta Premier, Rachel Notley, said she was thrilled to see an Alberta start-up succeed at the global level.
“Carbon is an issue that requires strong ecosystem collaboration from both industry and government, and (CUT’s) achievements show that Alberta is well positioned to both address the energy challenges of today and create the materials we need for our sustainable future," she added.
As a spinoff from an upstream energy service company, CUT is inextricably tied to Calgary through the industry it emerged from and the culture of entrepreneurship that it leveraged, says Mr. Sinha.
He points out that in just four years CUT has been able to leverage world-class engineering and scientific talent within Calgary to carry out one of the most aggressive scale-ups from a bench-top unit the size of a cookie jar to a system that can produce industrial production levels today.
Mr. Sinha believes Alberta made a significant step forward in its efforts to become a green energy hub with its decision to establish the Alberta Carbon Conversion Tech Center as part of the NRG COSIA Carbon X-Prize competition.
He adds that the site is a tangible example of how the conventional energy industry in Alberta is embracing the clean technology movement and helping bridge the economic and environmental sustainability goals in what is generally viewed as a polarizing choice that is mutually exclusive.
This article first appeared in the Globe & Mail Climate Leadership edition on Nov.2, 2018.