Elon Musk SpaceX
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Tesla Inc. co-founder Elon Musk said via a tweet on Thursday that he will donate $100 million towards a prize for a contest for the best carbon capture technology. In a subsequent tweet he said that he will provide more details next week.

The SpaceX CEO’s net worth increased greatly in the past year, pushing him past Jeff Bezos, as the carmaker brought consistent profits and attracted hosts of retail investors. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Musk has a net worth of $201.4 billion, making him the richest person on earth.

Being a beginner to philanthropy, Musk has little publicly in the way of charity. At most, he has donated $257 million to the Musk Foundation, which is only 0.1% of his current net worth, according to an analysis by Quartz.

Coming to his initiative of developing the “best carbon capture technology”, he is far from the first to invest in this field. Microsoft had announced similar plans to create a $1 billion fund for “carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.” A few start-ups have also sprung up in this venture as Climeworks, Carbon Engineering and Global Thermostat.

As the name implies, in carbon capture and storage, the waste carbon dioxide emitted at a refinery or factory is captured at the source and then stored. The stored waste is then cleansed of the potential harmful byproduct, to mitigate climate change. A company which has seen substantial progress in this field is LanzaTech. It has developed technology that captures waste gas emissions and uses bacteria to turn it into useable ethanol fuel. The core technology of LanzaTech is a bacterium that likes to eat these dirty gas streams. The converted ethanol can then be turned into various products.

What is certain here is that this field needs publicity as well as public awareness and Musk has a knack for generating attention.