Read Me: The Carbon Removal Challenge

The Carbon Removal Challenge is a worldwide challenge for students to create new processes, approaches and prototypes to remove carbon from the land, waters, or air. This mission is led by Matt Parker

With guidance from researchers and industry experts, student teams will design and build creative, open-source solutions to the carbon pollution problem. The very best approaches will be selected for an in-person showcase at a venue to be determined (for the 2023 event, the venue is New York University).

Carbon removal is far from where it needs to be in the near future to avert the worst effects of climate change.

The Carbon Removal Challenge will provide students from colleges and universities around the world an opportunity to work towards safeguarding their future. They will not only design and build machines that remove excess carbon from the environment, which will to help accelerate carbon tech innovation, but also build connections that will bring the next generation of talented engineers, thinkers, and designers into this important sector.

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 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 a certain date (the 2023 challenge deadline is January 8). Suggested team size is 2-8 members.

Key Dates (2023 challenge)

October 13, 2022 Competition announcement, Applications open
Fall 2022 OpenAir provides carbon removal webinars and videos to participants
January 8th Applications closed
Winter 2022-2023 12 to 50 teams work with faculty advisors and OpenAir mentors to build carbon removal prototypes
February 28, 2023 Teams submit designs and documentation of final prototypes
March 30, 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
Dr. Evvan Morton
Dr. Gregory Nemet
Michael Weinberg


Gloria See
Dahl Winters
Kristian Gubsch
Styles Smith
Grant Faber
Dr. Luis Estevez