SASIITB, a student-led team from The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IITB), was selected as one of the 23 winning teams of the XPRIZE Carbon Removal Student Competition. The team developed a carbon dioxide capture system capable of removing carbon dioxide from gaseous industrial effluents. The students proposed a method that allowed converting carbon dioxide into commercially and industrially valuable chemicals.
The team won under the category of Carbon Dioxide Removal Demonstration.
Each winning team is to get prize money of about Rs.186 lakh (US$250,000). According to an independent expert, the winning teams were chosen due to the innovativeness of the proposals, their feasibility, etc. Their potential impact and ability to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide were also considered. The resources and capabilities of the team members were also looked at.
“Winning this competition is a dream come true for us since we always dreamt of representing India in an international forum,” said the enthusiastic student members Srinath Iyer, Anwesha Banerjee, Srushti Bhamre, and Shubham Kumar, who were mentored by Prof Arnab Dutta and Prof Vikram Vishal.
Given the urgent need to address the climate emergency due to the Earth’s rising temperatures, the team from IIT Bombay proposed a two-pronged approach to the carbon dioxide removal process. In the first stage, carbon dioxide is captured from gaseous industrial waste. Then, it is converted to useful industrial chemicals in the second stage, thus eliminating carbon dioxide permanently, they stated.
Anwesha Banerjee, a winner from the team, said: “Our proposal stands out because this process provides the options of both CO2 capture and sequestration, to the industries along with the possibility of long-term sequestration,”
“Also, our methods are energy-efficient and cost-effective,” chipped in Srushti Bhamare.
“India could be the key player in developing sustainable, scalable, and cost-effective technology in the world, for carbon capture, utilization, and storage,” said Shubham Kumar.
Srinath Iyer, another team winner, said, “I feel very proud being a member of the Indian winning team. Ours is the only single institution team from a developing country on the list of winners.”
The student award competition is a part of a larger initiative, the $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal supported by the Musk Foundation. The student competition winners are eligible to participate in the XPRIZE Carbon Removal Milestone and Grand Prize Competition. As a target for this competition, the participating teams will have to demonstrate a solution capable of removing 1000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or oceans. In addition, they will need to give a cost estimate model for removing one million tons of carbon dioxide a year and show how the method can be scaled for removing one gigaton of carbon dioxide.
“Reducing emissions may not be enough for the world to reach net-zero. Methods (such as ours) for active removal of CO2 need to be developed and upscaled,” says Prof. Vikram Vishal