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A proud Sikh boy, Devinder Sarai is pursuing a significant idea that could address the pressing issue of the climate crisis, and it goes to show that such ideas can originate from anywhere, including the fertile agricultural land of West Carleton, Canada. 

Sarai’s revolutionary idea 

Sarai has a big idea called Cequest. He wants to create a technology that can capture carbon dioxide from the air and ocean using seawater, turn it into mineralized bicarbonate, and then sink it back into the oceans where it will be sequestered. This process will also add alkalinity to the oceans, which will help balance out the acidity that threatens our planet. Sarai has started a fundraising campaign to raise enough money to compete for the Elon Musk Foundation’s XPrize for Carbon Renewal.

He told Capital Current, “We’re taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. What’s special about this project is that it takes CO2 out of the ocean, as well as the atmosphere.”

How the prototype works 

Sarai, a high school graduate from 2020, is working on a prototype of a "carbon sequestration factory" that could remove 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere and ocean. However, to win the XPrize for Carbon Renewal, teams must demonstrate their ability to scale up to 1 million tonnes per year and show a pathway to achieving gigatonnes per year. If successful, this project could offset Canada's annual contribution to global warming.

According to the federal government's Greenhouse gas sources and sinks: executive summary 2021, Canada emitted 730 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2019, accounting for approximately 1.5% of global emissions. Sarai's love for nature sparked his interest in the environment.

He remarked that the morning was a beautiful and tranquil time, with everything appearing pristine and lovely. However, he also acknowledged the stark reality that on the other side of the country, particularly in the United States, wildfires were raging. He likened this to hurricane season, which seemed to be intensifying each year. He further added that while he was still able to relish the outdoors, flooding was occurring globally, and he attempted to empathize with those who were experiencing the devastating effects of these natural disasters.

Sarai’s passion for the environment 

Sarai's enthusiasm for the environment and his involvement in a hackathon organized by ‘The Knowledge Society in Ottawa’ in April led him to the carbon sequestration project. During the hackathon, Sarai's team was determined to decrease carbon emissions by tenfold. The team received a lot of praise for their efforts during the hackathon, but Sarai was the only one who desired to explore the idea further.

Sarai is collaborating with a group of experts including Richard DeVaul, who has worked with Apple and Google X, Andrew Blanchard, a partner at investment firm Jacket River, and Ian Lockhart, a senior director of The Knowledge Society based in Ottawa.

Together, they are developing a prototype that will be entered into the XPrize for Carbon Renewal, a four-year global competition aimed at finding innovative ways to sequester carbon directly from the atmosphere or oceans. The XPrize pot is the largest incentive in history, with up to $100 million available. In the fall of 2021, student teams may receive up to $5 million U.S. from XPrize as an award.

Sarai says, “It’s such a high concentration of bright minds. You’re surrounded by world-class people. Who knows what that network will bring. And just cool conversations. Really cool, inspiring people that will just get you to level up as well.”

According to Sarai, Cequest has plans to keep working on the carbon sequestration project. He said, “Building it out, working with a great team across the world because it’s also a business. It’s economically incentivized.”

Devinder Sarai,a young Sikh entrepreneur ,is one of the many Sikh followers who are continually contributing to the evolution of society, whether through service or scientific contributions. We are proud to see the Sikhs of today move forth equipped with the best of education and community support. 


*Based on an article by Rachel Morgan, published in Ottawa Citizen in 26th July 2021


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