Civil Engineering Professor Testifies before U.S. Senate on Carbon Management

Gaurav Sant testified before the U.S. Senate on Energy and Natural Resources

UCLA Samueli
Gaurav Sant testified before the U.S. Senate on Energy and Natural Resources

Apr 22, 2021

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom
Following a major XPRIZE win, UCLA professor Gaurav Sant joined an expert witness panel on Earth Day to testify in front of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on carbon utilization and management.

Chaired by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) with Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY), the bipartisan committee hearing focused on the opportunities and challenges for advancing and deploying carbon and carbon-dioxide utilization technologies in the U.S.

Sant, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and director of the Institute for Carbon Management, led the UCLA CarbonBuilt team to become the first university to win an XPRIZE. On Monday, the nonprofit organization announced the two $7.5 million grand prize winners in the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE global competition. The UCLA team’s winning technology turns carbon dioxide piped directly from power plants and other industrial facilities into concrete and seals the greenhouse gas within permanently.

Full committee hearing held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building
Full committee hearing held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building
In the two-hour session, Sant spoke on how carbon-dioxide utilization will play a significant role in mitigating emissions from the concrete industry and other emissions-intensive sectors. He also highlighted pioneering research underway at UCLA designed to enable large-scale and cost-effective direct utilization and removal of carbon-dioxide emissions, in an effort to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon world.

In his testimony, Sant stressed the importance of greatly expanded investment in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), as well as research and development in order to accelerate the deployment of carbon-utilization and management technologies. He also emphasized the need for government actions, such as strategic procurement and purchasing of low-carbon products and tax incentives for both early-state innovative companies and established corporations. In addition, Sant said national databases are needed to tabulate the carbon intensity of raw materials and finished products for cement, steel, concrete and others in order to provide a credible, technology-neutral and unbiased basis to compare carbon efficiency and intensity.

Sant was joined by Brian Anderson, director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy; Jason Begger, managing director of the Wyoming Integrated Test Center where the UCLA team successfully demonstrated its new technology for the final round of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition; and Randall Atkins, chief executive officer of Ramaco Coal.

Sant is a Henry Samueli Fellow and a professor of UCLA’s Materials Science and Engineering Department. He is also the founder and chief technology officer of CarbonBuilt, a UCLA startup currently housed at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute’s Magnify incubator to commercialize the direct carbon-utilization technology.

Watch the entire testimony at the committee hearing website.

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