IIT Madras Professor awarded for pioneering CO2 sequestration research

  • Industry News
  • Nov 23,23
His accolade stems from three years of dedicated research on carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration, a process that involves returning carbon to the earth.
IIT Madras Professor awarded for pioneering CO2 sequestration research

Rajnish Kumar, a member of the chemical engineering faculty at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), secured the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award in engineering for 2022. His accolade stems from three years of dedicated research on carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration, a process that involves returning carbon to the earth.

Kumar's focus has been on addressing the challenge of CO2 emissions, a byproduct of vehicle fuel usage and prevalent in industries such as cement, chemicals, and synthetic fuel production. Despite advancements in vehicle design reducing other gas emissions, the capture of CO2, particularly from industrial sources, remains a significant hurdle, according to Professor Kumar.

In the pre-industrial era, CO2 levels were below 300ppm, but over the last century, they have risen to 420ppm, with projections reaching 1000ppm in the future. Kumar raises questions about the potential impacts of such levels on weather conditions and other environmental changes.

India currently contributes 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, with researchers focusing on reducing emissions from cement, steel, and chemical industries, considered more feasible than capturing emissions from vehicles.

A key research challenge is developing cost-effective materials for capturing CO2. Kumar notes that the current cost of capturing one kg of CO2 is Rs 4.50, posing economic challenges as it doubles the electricity cost. Storing and breaking down captured CO2 also present challenges, as the process requires energy and hydrogen, and storing hydrogen, being a low-density gas, remains an unsolved issue.

Kumar dismisses tree planting as a panacea, highlighting the water consumption involved in farming. He emphasises the need for sustained, long-term efforts to educate the public and address the issue, stressing the importance of planning for the next 500 years rather than expecting immediate solutions within a decade or two.

Source: The Hindu

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