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SenGupta honored for third time in 2007

Arup SenGupta

Arup SenGupta, the P.C. Rossin Professor of civil and environmental engineering and also of chemical engineering, has received his third major honor this year.

SenGupta was recognized recently as a Fellow by the American Society of Civil Engineers, an international professional organization. With 140,000 members, ASCE is the largest civil engineering society in the U.S. To be elected a Fellow, an ASCE member must contribute significantly to his field through patents or excellent work.

In February, SenGupta and his research team received the Silver Award in the National Academy of Engineering’s Grainger Challenge for Sustainability. The award carries a cash prize of $200,000. The team includes Lehigh students and Bengal Engineering and Science University faculty.

In April, SenGupta and his Lehigh students won a $75,000 award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) competition for a project that will involve the safe disposal of sludge containing high levels of arsenic. The group plans to build a reactor and disposal site in the Indian state of West Bengal.

SenGupta and his students have developed a system that filters arsenic from contaminated well water. The system has been installed in more than 150 villages in Eastern India. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 100 million people in Eastern India and the neighboring country of Bangladesh may be drinking water containing toxic levels of arsenic. Victims suffer skin lesions, cancer and even death.

The nonprofit organization Water for People approached SenGupta in 1995, asking him to an arsenic-removal system. In response, SenGupta and his students created and commercialized the first polymer-based arsenic-selective adsorbent. Ferric hydroxide nanoparticles are inserted within columns of tiny, polymeric ion-exchange beads. The iron then transmits its affinity for arsenic to the beads. The beads prevent the iron powder from clumping or clogging the column.

The hand-operated systems are built in India and installed at a cost of $1,200 to $1,500, which is usually paid by the villages. They are maintained by village committees with help from Bengal Engineering and Science University.

ASCE Fellows must be ASCE members for 10 years and have a professional degree in civil engineering or land surveying. Members must be nominated to the status of Fellow by their peers, and then their applications are reviewed by a board of 10 Fellows. Only five percent of ASCE members become Fellows.

--Becky Straw

Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2007

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