Drew Rich stands between his mother Kelli Clark and father Sandy Rich at his undergraduate graduation from the University of Miami in 2017. PHOTO COURTESY OF DREW RICH

Island native wins Musk Foundation grant

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Quietside native and University of Miami (UM) doctoral student Drew Rich is among the winners of a $100,000 XPRIZE Carbon Removal project grant from the (Elon) Musk Foundation. 

The grant was issued in November to UM’s Accelerated Carbonate Ion Dissolution and Dispersal (ACIDD) student team members. ACIDD’s project is one of five around the country being awarded $100,000 to continue Musk’s mission of removing 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere. 

The grant will be used by the ACIDD team to fund work that extracts carbon dioxide from the ocean. 

“It’s a chemical reaction that traps carbon into the ocean, and as carbon precipitates out, it buries in the ocean,” said Rich.  

According to Rich, the partial pressure of carbon dioxide allows for more of it to dissolve into the ocean in a continuous cycle. “As we remove CO₂ from the ocean, the CO₂ from the air enters the ocean to maintain the equilibrium,” he said. 

Working with Florida-based clean energy company Planetary Hydrogen, the ACIDD team will also measure the chemical project’s effects on laboratory corals to ensure the experiment is safe for the environment. 

“We’re trying to move towards green infrastructure in general as a country. There’s going to be $100 million given away overall,” Rich said. “This was our first submission for preliminary funding, and the grant that will cover the research we will be working on.”  

With the grant, the team plans to work with Planetary Hydrogen to advance the objective of discovering the power of the oceans to address climate change – and to win the grand XPRIZE in 2025. 

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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