Students Build CO2 Scrubber

by Marcia Goodrich, senior writer

Komar Kawatra couldn't be prouder of the students on his research team. "We have developed a CO2 scrubber," he says. "It was designed at Michigan Tech and built at Michigan Tech by Michigan Tech students."

Kawatra, who chairs the chemical engineering department, has reason to be gratified by his proteges' efforts. An 11-foot bench-model smokestack packed with glass beads is percolating away in a lab. Near the top, a proprietary liquid dribbles down. From below, carbon dioxide bubbles up. By the time the gas reaches the top, fully half of the CO2 has been gobbled up by the liquid.

The process not only captures carbon, it binds it in a solid form, making an undisclosed product that can be used as a construction material. The liquid itself can be recovered and used again. The group has applied for a patent and hopes to build a pilot plant in cooperation with an industry partner, Carbontec Energy Corp.

Other scrubbers remove up to 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from a smokestack, Kawatra notes, but the liquid must be processed to strip away the carbon dioxide, which is generally compressed and stored. "This is a very expensive technique, which is probably why we do not see it commonly employed in industry," says PhD student Brett Spigarelli of Iron Mountain, a member of the research team.

The group is working to make the scrubber remove even more carbon dioxide. In the meantime, it offers a significant benefit to industry.

"Industry has a problem with CO2 capture and sequestration because it is an added cost with no direct benefit to them," Kawatra says. "But, if it is possible for industry to both capture CO2 and produce a product from the CO2 that they can sell, then they will be much more interested. Our goal is therefore to not only capture the CO2 at the lowest possible cost, but also to manufacture useful, marketable products."

Building the scrubber has been as much about education as research. In the beginning, Kawatra notes, the scrubber only removed 5 percent of the CO2, and the students were stymied. Then they had their first aha experience—and replaced their opaque pipe with clear plastic so they could see what was actually going on inside.

"You think research is going to be really complex and difficult," says Spigarelli. "Sometimes, it's just a matter of looking at things a little differently."

That small step led to big breakthroughs and, ultimately, to professional recognition. Their poster received second-place honors among the student entries at the 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers National Meeting, held in Salt Lake City.

The team included five chemical engineering undergraduates, Janelle Paddock, Paul Hagadone, Alison Springer-Wilson, Aliabbas Sherally and Russ Jungnitsch. Involving undergraduates in research does much more than prepare them for careers in academia, says Spigarelli. Research brings classroom lessons to life. "The sooner students can get familiar with these processes, the better prepared they are for the workplace."

Kawatra's graduate team members are Justin and Josh Carlson of Escanaba, Joe Halt of Calumet and Urvashi Srivastava of India.

"I have four Yoopers working for me," Kawatra says, smiling broadly. "We're one family, and it's a lot of fun to work with them."

Women's Basketball Ranked No. 5 Heading into Postseason

by Wes Frahm, director of athletic communications and marketing

Michigan Tech moved up two more spots to No. 5 in this week's USA TODAY/ESPN Division II Top 25 Coaches' Poll. The Huskies will spend their ninth straight week ranked in the nation's top 10 after pushing their record to 23-2 last week.

Tech defeated Saginaw Valley State 64-54 last Thursday (Feb. 24) and Northwood 68-51 last Saturday (Feb. 26) to run its winning streak to 10 games. The Huskies closed out the regular season with an 18-1 GLIAC record.

Three Midwest Region teams are ranked in the top 25. Fellow GLIAC member Grand Valley State is No. 25, while Great Lakes Valley Conference leader Quincy is No. 13.

The USA TODAY/ESPN Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll is selected weekly by members of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Tech has been ranked in every national poll since Jan. 22, 2008.

The Huskies, who own home-court advantage throughout the GLIAC Tournament, will host Tiffin today in a GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal game. Tipoff at the SDC Gym is slated for 7 p.m.

Great Lakes Showcase Entry Deadline Approaches

submitted by the Rozsa Center

Calling all Midwest artists! Please submit your entry for the Great Lakes Showcase by Saturday, March 5. The event is an annual juried exhibition of fine arts and crafts.

Awards of over $2,000 will be made to participating artists for outstanding achievement in a variety of categories: Best of Show (2-D and 3-D), $500; First Place (2-D and 3-D), $200; Second Place (2-D and 3-D), $100; Third Place (2-D and 3-D), $70; Honorable Mention (6 awards), $50; Community Choice Award, $150.

Artists may submit up to four entries in digital format. For more details, please see the full prospectus at: .

The Great Lakes Showcase opens with a reception at the Rozsa Center from 7 to 9 p.m., Monday, March 28. The opening will feature the awards announcement. The exhibition will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., weekdays, March 28 to April 29.

For more information, contact Bethany Jones at 487-1836 or at .

Auxiliary Services Customer Appreciation Week Kicks Off

submitted by Auxiliary Services

The Auxiliary Services Customer Appreciation week kicks off at the First Friday Social from 4 to 7 p.m., Friday, March 4, in Memorial Union Peninsula Room.

Join in on our weeklong "Treasure Hunt," March 7 to 11.

Maps, instructions and clues will be provided at the social, as well as at any Auxiliary Services location: the Memorial Union, Campus Dining Services (any venue), Campus Bookstore, University Images, Tech Express, Portage Lake Golf Course, Mont Ripley Ski Hill, Rozsa Center and Central Ticketing office.

Follow the trail on the map to the spots marked with an 'X' to find keys. Drop your keys into the treasure chest at each location to enter drawings to win a variety of wonderful prizes. A grand prize drawing for a free appetizer party for 25 people will be held at the Customer Appreciation Social at the Rozsa Center on Friday, March 11.

Check out all the events that have been planned throughout the week:

Saturday, March 5
Free lessons at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m., free lift tickets and rentals (anytime during the day), at Mont Ripley

Monday, March 7
Catering Lunch and Learn, from noon to 1 p.m., Memorial Union Ballroom B

Tuesday, March 8
Reinhardt Food Show and Cooking Competition, from noon to 2 p.m., in Wadsworth Hall Dining Room

Thursday, March 10
Khana Khazana, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Memorial Union Food Mall

Friday, March 11
Customer Appreciation Social, from 4 to 6 p.m., in the Rozsa Center

Saturday, March 12
Free lessons at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m., free lift tickets and rentals (anytime during the day), at Mont Ripley

Family Fun Day, free bowling and billiards, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Memorial Union Bowling Alley

Customer Appreciation Week is held each year to say "Thank You" to our valued customers.

Mont Ripley Offers Free Lessons to Graduate Students, Faculty and Staff

submitted by Mont Ripley staff

Mont Ripley is offering a free program in skiing or snowboarding for Michigan Tech grad students, faculty, staff and their spouses during Customer Appreciation Week.

The free package includes rental equipment, a daily ticket and a 90-minute lesson. The opportunity can be used only once by each person.

The offer is available at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m., Saturday, March 5; and 11 a.m. or 1 p.m., Saturday, March 12.

To reserve a lesson, call the ski hill at 487-2340. If you need rentals, come to the hill one hour before the lesson starts.

Learn the safe way from ski and snowboard expert instructors. All lessons meet at the sign, "Ski School Meets Here," before going out. Discover the thrill of going downhill.

MSE Sponsors SFHI Candidate in Health

MSE will sponsor a seminar as part of the Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative in Health.

Bruce Lee, director of new technology at Nerites Corporation in Madison, Wis., will present "Design and Application of Bioadhesives Inspired by Marine Mussels," at 3:30 p.m., Friday, March 4, in Rekhi G05.

For more information, contact Beth Ruohonen at 487-4326 or . To view the abstract, see MSE .

Women in Information Technology: Speaker Anne Herron

Vice President Anne Herron, of Allis Information Management, will be the featured guest speaker at the third annual "Women in IT" series from noon to 1 p.m., today, in the Memorial Union Ballroom A. The event is in association with Women's Month at Michigan Tech. Lunch will be available.

For more information, see the School of Business and Economics website .

Physics Colloquium

Graduate students Niraj Dhital and Madhusudan Savaikar (Physics) will present, respectively, two physics colloquia, titled "Search for Exotic Elementary Particles Using the Pierre Auger Observatory" and "Modeling of Multi-Island Single-Electron Transistor (SET) Devices," at 4 p.m., Thursday, March 3, in Fisher 139.

For more information, please contact Petra Hüntemeyer at 487-1229 or , or Claudio Mazzoleni at 487-1226 or .


Director Robert Warrington (Institute for Leadership and Innovation) was elected to membership in the Pan American Academy of Engineering for his contributions to the advancement of engineering in the Americas. The academy recognizes individuals based on their ethical, academic and professional merits, their contributions to improving the lives of people in their country and across the continent through technological advances, and their dedication to continued involvement in these endeavors. The award was made at the UPADI conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Job Postings

Staff job descriptions are available in Human Resources or at . For more information regarding staff positions, call 487-2280 or email .

Faculty job descriptions can be found at . For more information regarding faculty positions, contact the academic department in which the position is posted.

Staff Postings

User Support Specialist II
Four Positions Available
Apply online at .

User Support Specialist III
Two Positions Available
Apply online at .

Please note: Human Resources is transitioning to an online application process for the six job postings above. Please go to to read the notice to applicants.

Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer.

In Print

Professor Barry Solomon (Social Sciences) recently had a paperback edition released, "Renewable Energy from Forest Resources in the United States," which he coedited with Valerie Luzadis (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry), (London: Routledge, 2011).