31 March, 2023: Lehigh Engineering researcher, Arup SenGupta, has developed a breakthrough method for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and safely storing it in the ocean. The innovative technology utilises a copper-containing polymeric filter called DeCarbonHIX, which converts CO2 into sodium bicarbonate commonly known as baking soda, that can be harmlessly released into the ocean, creating an infinite carbon sink.
Published in the journal Science Advances, the research demonstrated a 300% increase in the amount of carbon captured compared to existing direct air capture methods. Companies based in Brazil, Ireland, and the Middle East have expressed interest in the technology, which offers a practical and affordable solution for combating the global climate crisis.
SenGupta, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and civil and environmental engineering at Lehigh's P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, believes that the technology should be accessible to people and countries worldwide. He envisions a world where anyone who can operate a cell phone can operate the DeCarbonHIX process. He said, "This is not technology for making money. It's for saving the world".
This groundbreaking invention is an extension of SenGupta's personal and professional commitment to developing technologies that benefit humanity, particularly marginalised communities around the world. His research on water science and technology has included drinking water treatment methodologies, desalination, municipal wastewater reuse and resource recovery. SenGupta's patented arsenic-selective hybrid anion exchanger nanomaterial (HAIX-Nano) has provided more than two million people with access to safe drinking water worldwide, and two of his patents have been recognized as "Patents for Humanity" by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
SenGupta's invention of DeCarbonHIX was the outcome of an ongoing CO2-driven wastewater desalination project funded by the Bureau of Reclamation under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The search for a reliable supply of CO2, even in remote places, led to the field of Direct Air Capture, or DAC, and the creation of DeCarbonHIX.
The DeCarbonHIX technology offers a promising solution to the global climate crisis and could play a vital role in mitigating the impacts of climate change. SenGupta's commitment to creating technologies that benefit humanity and his innovative breakthroughs in carbon capture and water science provide hope for a more sustainable and equitable future for all.