Dr Rajnish Kumar of the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, who was named today as one of the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awardees, is an expert in gas hydrates and is currently working on industrial projects with GAIL and L&T.

He is working on a CO2 capture project with the engineering major, L&T, and a CO2 utilisation project with a leading oil company. “Under the GAIL project, we plant to demonstrate a gas hydrate-based water purification process for purifying industrial effluent water,” Kumar told businessline today.

The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award is given every year to young Indian scientists in memory of Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, who was the Founder-Director (and later, the first Director-General) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and is credited with establishing twelve national laboratories in as many years.

Kumar, 45, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, did his PhD on gas hydrates at The University of British Columbia, Canada. Gas hydrates, abundantly found in the seas, are ice formed out of a mixture of gas and water. It is believed to be a major source of natural gas, though nothing has been produced so far anywhere in the world.

On December 4, 2021, businessline recorded Kumar’s work in solving two vexing problems, climate change and energy security, in one go. His idea is to first separate carbon dioxide, in an almost pure form, from the flue gases of industries, particularly coal-fired thermal plants and then inject the gas into the gas hydrate zones— whereupon the carbon dioxide molecules push out the resident methane molecules and take their place. The methane can be tapped off.

Speaking to businessline today, Kumar said his next aim is to see that “many more from IIT-M get this, and similar awards.”