How carbon removal could save the planetBy Daksh Aggarwal, MEng ’23 (ME) Each year, Berkeley MEng candidates embark on a two-semester capstone experience where they work with faculty or industry partners to bring solutions for real-world problems to life with engineering skills and leadership practices. Here, we place a spotlight on the capstone experience of the Direct Air Capture capstone team, which includes Daksh, Luca Aringsmann, Lauren Takata and Wuwei Mo. They are advised by UC Berkeley Professor Tarek Zodhi, the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering, and Dr. Christine Spiegelberg from Siemens Energy. Our team is currently performing a techno-economic analysis to better understand the guiding parameters that affect the efficiency and effectiveness of various sorbents. This research would help to better optimize the Direct Air Capture process, a technology which aims to reduce global carbon dioxide levels, in the fight against climate change. Investing in solutions to reduce global carbon dioxide levels is crucial to combat climate change. However, current efficiencies are low and largely depend on sorbent, or filter material, selection. Therefore, our team is conducting a techno-economic analysis of conventional and emerging solid sorbents while also considering overall environmental impacts. We look to quantify data and create a comprehensive model to compare sorbents at a large scale in order to solve this multi-objective optimization problem. Ultimately, we hope to provide novel insights into the current labyrinth of DAC and sorbent technologies. This project is being supported by UC Berkeley and Siemens Energy, particularly their Innovation Centre. A few weeks ago, our team traveled to Siemens Energy’s North American headquarters in Orlando, Florida to present our team findings from the last few months. During our trip, we also got a chance to visit the Kennedy Space Centre with our capstone advisor in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Personally, I really appreciated the overall experience and the opportunity to interact with Siemens Energy. As this is a very novel topic, over the last few months our team has gotten the opportunity to learn about the overall Direct Air Capture process, how it can be optimized and the future of the technology. We even got a chance to consult Dr. Klaus Lackner, who is the founder of Direct Air Capture concept. During our visit to Siemens Energy facility, it was great to see the engagement by the company staff and the insightful discussion we had following our presentation. I am very passionate about the climate change crisis, so it was intriguing to see first-hand how leading companies are taking a step, to develop solutions to fight against climate change, and how I could play an impactful role in this journey! Connect with Daksh. Edited by Veronica Roseborough.
Capstone Spotlight: Optimizing Sorbent Material for Direct Air Capture was originally published in Berkeley Master of Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.