The team - including Harshit Saini, Ashmit Khanna, and Aubin Philips - had embarked on a three-year project to create the device Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: A student team in Sharjah has created a device that cuts carbon waste from cars and turns the soot into usable graphite.

Three Grade 12 students from GEMS Our Own English High School – Sharjah (Boys) have created ‘The Crucible’ that uses the application of heat and pressure in the presence of inert gas to convert soot - a carbon product formed during incomplete combustion of carbon - into graphite, a usable allotrope of carbon.

Since the reaction requires a very high temperature, the students used a solar furnace to make the device sustainable and accessible.

Rasheeda Bundankhan, Digital Leader, GEMS Our Own English High School – Sharjah, said the name Crucible comes after the crucible furnace, a simple and centuries-old type of melting unit commonly used in a foundry. The GEMS students have implemented the uses of its applications in the project.

“The Crucible, which started as a humble thought at the end of a brainstorming session in class, scribbled roughly on a napkin, bore fruit at the Expo Young Innovator’s Challenge,” she said.

Student Harshit Saini said they started working on this project when we were in Grade 9. His peer Ashmit Khanna said they felt a responsibilty to take action in the face of rising pollution.

At a crossroad

“For the first time in over 800,000 years, CO2 [carbon dioxide] concentrations have not only risen above 300ppm [parts per million], but are now well over 400ppm. As the next generation, it is upon us to take action. The population of our world is on the rise and this growth shows no signs of stagnating. That poses a threat to available resources available and sustainable manufacturing. That was the key factor that motivated our team towards pursuing this project and inspiring positive change to the benefit of the planet we all call home,” Ashmit added.

Saini said: “One of the major causes of climate change is the increase in CO2 emissions and its by-products. Soot, also called black carbon, is the most solar energy-absorbing component of particulate matter and can absorb one million times more energy than CO2. The effect of global warming could be reversed if we can tackle the carbon problem. And we can be saved from the adversities associated with a deteriorating world. That’s why we chose carbon as our theme.”

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‘Pulling all-nighters’

Project teammate Aubin Philips said: “We all loved watching science documentaries, discoveries and innovations. This propelled us in the direction of becoming problem solvers. ‘Creating this project was hard’ would be an understatement, partially owing to the fact it was our first-ever undertaking. We read a lot of research documents, searched for solutions at every possible interval and pulled some all-nighters. Our teachers also helped us to understand the concepts that we wanted to use at a deeper and more advanced level, and they critiqued our solutions to certain problems. This helped us to make an optimal solution.”