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Why Carbon Removal?

There is already too much CO2 in the atmosphere, and some essential industries – namely, commercial aviation and steel and cement manufacturing – will be very difficult to rapidly decarbonize in time. Any chance we have of limiting average global temperature change to a survivable threshold (1.5C or below) must include the removal of carbon from the atmosphere. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has called for Carbon Dioxide Removal (Negative Emissions Technologies), to help us stay below 1.5C above preindustrial temperatures – the threshold scientists agree is the point at which we will irreversibly impact our climate for the worse.


  • Introduce a new generation of students to the world of carbon capture
  • Highlight and showcase the carbon removal work already happening in higher ed
  • Give students a hands-on opportunity to create brand new solutions to the carbon pollution problem
  • Promote new innovations through open source licensing, which will allow more rapid advancement of students’ technologies and enable others to build on the success of earlier submissions
  • Build talent networks for employers and future job seekers


Each team must submit an application, complete with a full list of team members, a faculty advisor, and an overview of their design, by the end of November 2022. Suggested Team size is 2-8 members.

Key Dates


September 2022 Competition announcement, submissions open
Fall 2022 OpenAir provides carbon removal webinars and videos to participants
November 2022 Applications closed
Winter 2022-2023 12 to 50 teams work with faculty advisors and OpenAir mentors to build carbon removal prototypes
February 2023 Teams submit designs and documentation of final prototypes
March 2023 Judges choose 5-10 teams for the final showcase at NYU
April 19, 2023 Final showcase at NYU
April 22, 2023 Results announced on Earth Day


Tom Igoe Tom Igoe
• Co-founder of Arduino
• Professor, NYU ITP
• Area Head for Physical Computing
Dr. Evvan Morton Dr. Evvan Morton
• American Association for Advancement of Science
Science & Technology Policy Fellow
Dr. Gregory Nemet Dr. Gregory Nemet
• Professor, University of Wisconsin
• Lead Author, UN IPCC Report
• Author, “How Solar Became Cheap”
Michael Weinberg Michael Weinberg
• Professor, University of Wisconsin
• Lead Author, UN IPCC Report
• Author, “How Solar Became Cheap”

Judges / Mentors

Gloria See
• Climatebase Founding Fellow 2022
• Chief Engineer, Edge Effects
• Cofounder, Cquestration
Expertise: sensor design, semiconductor materials, photonics, hardware testing, entrepreneurship policy, algae-based CDR, precision agriculture, wearable sensors
Dahl Winters
• Co-Founder and CEO of TerraNexum
Expertise: System development/optimization for renewable energy and carbon management, focusing on geothermal and direct air capture
Kristian Gubsch
• Co-Founder and Vice President of Feedstock Development Mars Materials
• Marshall Scholar Alumni
Expertise: Reactor design, direct air capture sorbent selection, process modelling, capital and operating expense estimation, and project planning and management
Styles Smith
• Data Scientist aboard the E/V Nautilus
• President, Penn State Biology Department Graduate Student Association
• Teacher at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
• STEM Teacher at Saturday Academy via the University of Portlan
Expertise: Biology and Microbiology, genetics and genomics, coral microbiomes, science communication
Grant Faber
• Global CO2 Initiative
• Heirloom
• Twelve
• Consultant
Expertise: Techno-economic and life cycle assessment, strategy
Dr. Luis Estevez
• CEO of Advanced & Innovative Multifunctional Materials
Expertise: Material science

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