Meet Vikram Vishal. At the age of 31, the IIT-Bombay professor has just won the prestigious Indian National Science Academy (INSA) Young Scientist award 2017, considered as the highest recognition for young scientists in India. Vishal works as an assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at IIT-Bombay.
The award comprises of a cash prize of Rs 25,000 and a bronze medal, a release from the IIT-Bombay said. Vishal is currently working on research “which attempts to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and their environmental impact by capturing the natural gases”, it said.
His research “looks at capturing the carbon dioxide released when coal is burnt or created as a by-product in other industries and injecting it back into the rock deep underground so that it is not released into the atmosphere,” the release added.
Thanks to the vast geological diversity, India offers ample opportunities for the storage of carbon dioxide, and injection of carbon dioxide will also lead to “enhanced recovery of methane to partly meet our growing energy demands”, Vishal was quoted as saying in the release.
The scientific model developed by Vishal can prove to be a long-term solution for carbon dioxide emissions in the country. The model involves trapping the carbon dioxide and injecting them in hard rocks within the sub-surface of our planet.
“The analogy comes from the natural gases that remain trapped in rocks for millions of years. If we can successfully inject the emissions into the rocks, they will remain there for several thousand years,” said Vishal.
The research was published in several journals last year, however Vishal aims to take the next step – establish a plant to visualise the model. “The plan is to have at least a demonstration plant to see the feasibility of it. We can partner with the industries to set up the plant,” said Vishal.
Coal-based power plants, oil and gas plants , fertiliser and cement manufacturing units are some of the sources that churn out high emissions.
Vishal has also worked on studies on pollution in Mumbai in the past. “We have worked on the emissions from dumpyard fires as well as mine fires and noted similarities in the two,” said Vishal.
Vishal has obtained his engineering degree from Presidency College in Kolkata and did a masters course at IIT-B.
“Institutes also need to focus on certain research areas based on the contemporary needs of the world. We should also compare our institutes with the best practices in universities abroad to improve the quality of research,” said Vishal.