For a planet increasingly ravaged by the effects of climate change, removing carbon from the atmosphere could be part of a desperately needed turn in the right direction.

Innovators worldwide participating in the XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition are racing to develop technologies that can harvest that carbon dioxide efficiently and lock it away. Now, from an initial field of more than 500 entries, competition judges have chosen a University of Wisconsin–Madison team’s solution among the most promising.

The team, Earth RepAIR, was among the top 60 groups, and one of only 21 teams focusing on direct air capture, in the XPRIZE competition, a $100 million global challenge funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation. The challenge is aimed at fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle — a critical need for action underscored in an April 2022 report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The multiyear, multistage competition concludes Earth Day 2025.

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