Buzzing through a picturesque German countryside, hopefully in the right direction, on a sunny summer afternoon with Radiohead on a loop, I find myself in a rather (and an increasingly rarer!) contemplative mood. This seems to be a perfect time, therefore, to write about myself. My name is Kaustub Singh and I’m from a small (with population running in millions in true Indian spirit!) town Jaunpur in northern india. To put it in a more comprehensible metric, I’m a night train away from the hotspot (literally!), New Delhi. I completed my bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Goa, India’s go-to party and holiday place and then moved to Delft (50 minutes from Amsterdam and another major party town!) to pursue my masters in process engineering. My parents, at one point, were thoroughly cynical about my career choices being motivated by my proximity to a party destination. I put those speculations to rest, for good, when I joined my PhD studies in Leeuwarden last October. I am affiliated to the department of Organic chemistry at WUR but I am located at Wetsus in Leeuwarden. It is a unique research institute focusing on water technology, bringing people from every, sometimes diametrically opposite, field together in an innovation-conducive environment (I was not paid to write this! At least not enough!). My research sees chemistry, chemical and electrochemical engineering come together in the most elegant and application-oriented ways. Therefore, I do not see a better professional climate for me. It is difficult, however, to extend a similar conclusion to the Dutch climate.
Waste water treatment is a challenge which manifests itself globally. Desalination is one such form of treatment which is of high priority for human survival and growth. My current research interest revolves around the one such technology: Capacitive Deionization (CDI). It uses electrodes to pass current through a water stream to remove the ions (and therefore the salt) in it and store them in these electrodes. This was the electrochemical perspective. I aim to fabricate a novel kind of electrode which will have cages to trap these salt ions using redox reactions. Their preparation and modification for an optimum performance, in terms of salt intake capacity and long time stability brings chemistry in perspective. Finally, the water to be treated needs to flow either through or against these electrodes for them to do their thing. The salt ions can only enter our designed cages when they can move easily without facing much resistance. This would require a serious art of persuasion. This brings in the final straw, chemical engineering, into perspective. My aim in the coming 3.5 years would be to fabricate an electrochemical setup which can rival the existing technologies in salt removal capacity at a more affordable building and energy costs. The ultimate goal would be to selectively remove ions of choice from a mixture, which still remains a holy grail for separation systems. Imagine the things we can do….well that can perhaps be a part of my next blog. My playlist and journey is approaching it’s end, and so should this blog!
Untill next time !