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the story of the SWAP

Like so many iconic invention stories, theirs began in a garage, when environmental engineer Ray Stenger and entrepreneur chemist Jim Wasas formed a partnership. Together they would unearth a profound scientific discovery – a breakthrough with the ability to convert and significantly reduce industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and change the world’s energy trajectory for the next 100 years.

Stenger and Wasas first met in 2002 during a networking event in Asbury Park, N.J. Stenger was an engineer focused on environmental cleanup; Wasas was a gold extraction specialist and had founded a liqueur company that marketed a brand he developed while living and working in Ecuador. Over time, the men became friends, regularly discussed chemistry, industry and finding the ways to live better through science. The May 2006 release of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” sparked yet another conversation between the two – the issue of greenhouse gases, CO2 and climate change. With two parts oxygen – shouldn’t CO2 be considered an oxidizing agent? Their conversation quickly became a brainstorming session.

Their scientific strong suits were symbiotic – Stenger was interested in “recombinant” science, or taking things apart and putting them back together. Wasas’ strength was “catalysis” and “extraction” science, or separating compounds. They paired their thoughts, and the foundation of the Stenger-Wasas Process (SWAP) was laid.

Stenger had extensive experience with elemental sulfur, having worked at the Army’s Chemical Research Center in Maryland. He knew that as a solid, sulfur is tame. But when liquefied, it becomes aggressive and combative. He had a theory that hot sulfur would attack CO2 and turn it into Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), and that solid carbon would precipitate out. Wasas’ expertise in extraction science armed him with the background to help identify a reacting agent. Together, they knew the answer hid beneath the facts.

Wasas had much of the proper laboratory equipment in his basement in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. They spent a few hundred dollars on additional items and together, having no idea what they were about to uncover, they converted Wasas’ garage into an ad hoc laboratory. Early thermodynamic calculations indicated the possibility of a reaction between CO2 and gaseous sulfur at very high temperatures, but they decided that this was impractical. They needed to identify a substance that contained the requisite potency to react with and decompose the CO2. It would need to be abundant and inexpensive, maybe even free.

More than a year of experimentation, seven-day workweeks and multiple failures finally led them to hydrogen sulfide and their stroke of genius – an inexpensive, long-lived, self-cleaning catalyst.

The beauty of the SWAP is both its simplicity and the scope of its applications. The SWAP can permanently remove carbon from the carbon cycle by converting it into stable, industrially valuable solids and liquids. The SWAP could make carbon capture profitable in sales to the oil and gas industry, impacting other carbon-emitters including coal-fired power, waste management, manufacturing, agriculture, aerospace and construction. Simply put, the SWAP significantly reduces trash by marrying industries that produce CO2 and industries that produce H2S — oil and gas refiners.

The SWAP addresses the most important challenges of our time through a newly-discovered field of chemistry, what Stenger and Wasas call the “Global Sulfur Cycle” to reduce or eliminate humanity’s impact on climate change while solving the world’s energy crisis.

In a New Jersey garage, Jim Wasas and Ray Stenger discovered how to convert and eliminate CO2, opening the door to a new energy economy.

It’s time to rewrite the chemistry textbooks.

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