Students and faculty members at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) have bagged a grant worth $250,000 from the XPRIZE Foundation, which is part of the Elon Musk Foundation at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The student team, also known as SASIITB, comprises Srinath Iyer, Anwesha Banerjee, Srishti Bhamare and Shubham Kumar.
Winning teams will utilise this grant to compete in subsequent rounds of XPRIZE Carbon Removal or to develop key supporting technologies which will enable carbon dioxide removal. Awards of $250,000 have been given to teams competing for the XPRIZE Carbon Removal Milestone and Grand Prize awards across the various carbon removal pathways – air, land, rocks and oceans, as per the XPRIZE Foundation release.
Factors like technologies and/or methodologies used for improving the standards of assessment, precision and time required for carbon measurements were considered. At least 50 per cent of the members of the participating teams need to enrolled in an educational institution in order to be eligible for the Carbon Removal Student Competition.
Tesla and SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk said, “We want to make a truly meaningful impact. Carbon negativity, not neutrality. The ultimate goal is scalable carbon extraction technologies that are measured based on the ‘fully considered cost per ton’ which includes the environmental impact. This is not a theoretical competition; we want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level. What it takes. Time is of the essence.”
What did the team create for this award and how does it work?
The team created a tri-modular technology for large scale carbon dioxide removal. “Biomass-based power plants and other industries which utilise biomass are sources of both CO2 as well as alkaline emissions (calcium oxide and magnesium oxide),” Iyer said.
He further explained, “Carbon dioxide emissions from these industries can be captured using different solutes or solvents and the carbon dioxide rich solvent could then be reacted with alkaline waste to generate permanently sequenced mineral carbonates simultaneously also regenerating the solvent in an integrated CO2 absorption mineralisation cum regeneration of solvent which is IAMR (integrated CO2 absorption-mineralisation and regeneration of absorbent) process.”
The IAMR process employs potassium carbonate solution as the absorbent and uses steel slag as the desorbent at normal temperature and pressure. This method works effectively at reducing energy consumption and costs compared with the traditional thermal regeneration method, as per a research paper filed by Sichuan University and Chonquing University of China.
He added that mineral carbonates generated due to the process could be utilised as alternative materials thereby avoiding indirect CO2 emissions. Generation of highly concentrated CO2 is an energy-intensive and costly process and management of CO2 waste generated from industries is a huge problem.
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