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Xprize challenge offers $20 million to curb fossil fuel emissions

Sadly, carbon dioxide emissions aren't going away just yet. However, the Xprize crew would like to at least see those emissions do something besides accelerate climate change. They're launching the NRG COSIA Carbon Xprize, a competition that will hand out a total of $20 million to teams that convert fossil fuels' CO2 output into genuinely useful products. The 4.5-year challenge will be separated into two tracks (one for coal emissions, the other for natural gas), both of which will offer a pool of $2.5 million for hitting initial lab milestones and a $7.5 million grand prize for whoever succeeds in the real world.

This may not be the most glamorous Xprize ever, but it's realistic: scientists are already converting CO2 into materials as exotic as diamonds. If successful, it could introduce a genuinely viable way to reduce or even eliminate emissions at 'dirty' power plants. While it's not likely to undo decades of harm all by itself, it could offer a stopgap solution while the plant owners transition to clean energy sources.

[Image credit: Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images]