Biochar and the xprize carbon removal prize

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Biochar and the XPRIZE Carbon Removal Prize

June 14, 2022 – 1:00 – 2:30 pm ET (US)

Join the International Biochar Initiative (IBI) and the XPRIZE Carbon Removal Milestone Award winners that are focused on using biochar and PyCCs to remove and store carbon, while also focusing on soil health, among other biochar use co-benefits.

Dr. Robert C. Brown, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University
Kevin Kung, Co-Founder & CTO, Takachar
Axel Reinaud, Co-Founder & CEO, NetZero
Dr. David Hughes, Founder, PlantVillage, Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Chair in Global Food Security, PennState University

Moderator: Kathleen Draper, Board Chair, IBI

Cost: Free to IBI Members or $40 for non-members.

Non-IBI Members: Non-IBI members may purchase a recording and webinar slides for a $40 fee at this link.


Michael Leitch – Technical Lead, XPRIZE Carbon Removal

Michael Leitch is the Technical Lead for the $100-million XPRIZE Carbon Removal, leading the technical and scientific operations of the XPRIZE competition. Mr. Leitch has a decade of experience practicing engineering, technology development, and applied research. He is trained as a machinist and holds a Masters in Engineering Management from the University of Alberta. A carbon-fiber enthusiast, outside of the office you can find him racing high performance sailboats and bicycles.

Axel Reinaud – NetZero

Axel Reinaud is the co-founder & CEO of NetZero, a climate venture leveraging biochar to perform long-term carbon removal. NetZero extract carbon from agricultural waste in tropical developing countries, and convert it into a permanent soil amendment (biochar) and electricity. This model maximises social and climate impact. Prior to launching NetZero, Axel was for 23 years at Boston Consulting Group, with various client and internal leadership positions. Axel holds a master’s degree in engineering from Ecole Centrale de Paris and an MBA from INSEAD.

Kevin Kung – Takachar

Kevin Kung is the co-founder and CTO of Takachar. From 2012 to 2017, Kevin built Takachar’s core technology as part of his Ph.D. research in the field of biofuels and renewable energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where through the support of the Tata Trusts, he traveled to India extensively and designed the technology to meet specific local needs. Prior to that, Kevin had six years of experience conducting engineering design in resource-constrained settings, including borehole restoration in Uganda, interlocking stabilized construction materials in Ghana, and renewable energy systems in Kenya and India. Kevin is a 2018 Cyclotron Road (Activate) Fellow and a 2019 Echoing Green Fellow.

Dr. Robert Brown – Iowa State University

Dr. Robert Brown is Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University (ISU). He is the founding director of ISU’s Bioeconomy Institute and holds courtesy appointments in Chemical and Biological Engineering, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, and Food Science and Nutrition. His research interests include advanced biofuels, plastics upcycling, and carbon negative energy. Dr. Brown has written over 300 scientific papers and book chapters. He wrote Biorenewable Resources: Engineering New Products from Agriculture, widely used as a textbook around the world.

Dr. David Hughes, PlantVillage Founder, Huck Chair in Global Food Security at Penn State University and Director of USAID Innovation Lab on Current and Emerging Threats to Crops

Dr. Hughes works on global food security through PlantVillage, using and develop computer software, AI algorithms, and ground networks of youth and farmers to combat pests and climate change stressors at the farm level. He also founded Carbon4Good to help smallholder farmers in Africa profit from the carbon market. Dr. Hughes’ work focuses on the wicked problem of smallholder farmer adaptation to climate change coupled with biotic stressors.

Moderator:  Kathleen Draper

Kathleen is the Board Chair of the International Biochar Initiative. She is also the US Director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence. The Institute is an open source network focusing on beneficial carbon sequestration strategies which simultaneously provide economic development opportunities both in the developed and developing world. In 2020 she helped launch C-interest, a start-up focused on creating biochar based composite materials. She has written extensively about various topics related to biochar and is a co-author of the book “Terra Preta: How the World’s Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger” and “BURN: Using Fire to Cool the Earth”.