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Pune lad shows industries how to keep the air clean

Thursday, 7 February 2013 - 11:27am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA
UK varsity team finds way to get rid of carbon dioxide.

A 25-year-old chemical engineering graduate from Pune, Gaurav Bhaduri, has played an important role in what could be a path-breaking discovery. A study on sea urchins by a team of researchers, including Gaurav, from Britain’s Newcastle University showed a process that could revolutionise efforts to reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Bhaduri is the principal author of the study.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the principal cause of climate change. Researchers showed how sea urchins use nickel to make use of CO2 in the ocean to form their calcareous (made up of calcium carbonate) shells.

This chance discovery prompted researchers to add tiny particles of nickel to a solution of water and CO2, which led to total disappearance of CO2 and left behind calcium carbonate. Bhaduri graduated from AISSMS College of Engineering, located near Pune regional traffic office (RTO) and is currently pursuing his PhD at the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials, Newcastle University.

“After passing out from the engineering college, I wanted to study nanotechnology further. That’s why I joined this varsity, which has one of the best departments. I am here since September 2010 and have been lucky to work on this project with Dr Lidija Siller, a physicist and reader in nanoscale technology,” said Bhaduri.

The resident of Tingrenagar has done his schooling at Sardar Dastur Hoshang Boys High School and attended junior college at Nowrosjee Wadia College.

Talking about the discovery, he said it was purely by chance. “Dr Siller was already working on a project to study toxicity in sea urchins. In one result, they did complete elemental mapping and found nickel on the surface. When I joined, I started working on mineralisation and started with enzyme carbonic anahydrase. For my experiment, I was looking for magnetic materials and instead of iron ore, which I wanted to use, Dr Siller suggested nickel,” said Bhaduri.

It was in this chance experiment that Bhaduri did later using only nickel without enzyme that he made the discovery. The researchers have applied for a patent and are looking for sponsors to take this further.

Important discovery
Researchers at Newcastle University found that sea urchins use nickel to utilise carbon dioxide to form their shells. This prompted researchers to add tiny particles of nickel to a solution of water and CO2, which led to disappearance of CO2 and left behind calcium carbonate.

The cheap solution provides answer to the question of climate change and can be employed on a mass scale by industries. It leaves behind a harmless byproduct i.e. calcium carbonate (or chalk) that makes up around 4% of the Earth’s crust.

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