Office of Sustainability Alumni Places 8th in SPARK Tank Contest

images of glass chemistry beakers in a lab

By Lauren White

One of our rock star Office of Sustainability student employees, Fahad Alshammry, chatted with us recently about his passion for sustainability and a contest he participated in through the MiSK Foundation.  Fahad is originally from Yanbu, Saudi Arabia and served as a Sustainability Project Assistant with the Office from August 2019 through August 2021.  He will graduate with a degree in Chemistry in December 2021.  While he worked with us, Fahad made many invaluable contributions to the Office, including learning ArcGIS, updating our Campus Sustainability Map, and getting our forthcoming Campus Sustainability Tour ready to launch!  He entered the MiSK SPARK Program contest for aspiring entrepreneurs, and he told us about his innovative idea, below.

Fahad Alshammry, pictured wearing a white coat in the University of Arizona Chemistry lab
Fahad Alshammry, Office of Sustainability alumni, pictured in the University of Arizona chemistry lab.

Office of Sustainability:  Why were you drawn to the field of sustainability? 
Fahad Alshammry:  I had no idea about sustainability until I started my first semester at the University of Arizona. I took a General Education class called Sustainable Earth and ever since then my interest in sustainability has just kept growing. 

OS:  What are some of your favorite past projects you’ve worked on for the Office? 
FA:  One of my favorite projects that I have worked on in the Office is the Story Map Tour Project. This project has taught me a lot about the sustainable features on our campus. It is also my favorite because it makes me feel that I have truly made an impact knowing that everyone who is going to take the tour will learn about things that they probably never knew about before.

OS:  What are a few of your hobbies and favorite things to do outside of work?  
FA:  One of my favorite hobbies is calisthenics. It is one of those hobbies that really helps me to disconnect from reality and just be in my own world.

OS:  Do you have a favorite Tucson restaurant or local business?
FA:  Crepe N’ Dip at Tucson Mall! It is owned by one of my very best friends here in Tucson.

OS:  Tell us about this recent accolade you received.  
FA:  Recently, I won 8th place in a contest called SPARK Tank that was organized by a non-profit organization called the MiSK Foundation. The contest was focused on developing a business idea into a pitch by designing a business model, an investment structure, problem-solution, etc. My business idea was focused on developing a sustainable way of generating electricity. It all started in one of my inorganic chemistry labs while I was conducting an experiment under a high-pressure, low-temperature, closed system. During the experiment, I accidentally placed a piece of solid carbon dioxide into a tube that had hydrogen gas in it. As soon as I placed that piece of solid carbon dioxide into the tube, I saw a colorless liquid that was forming. That liquid was pressurized, synthesized methane gas. The idea that came into my mind was that we can actually make use of the CO2 that is in the air. So, my idea focused on capturing CO2 from the air using a technology called Direct Air Capture and then introducing hydrogen gas to the captured CO2 to synthesize methane gas. After that, we use the methane gas we synthesize to generate electricity and at the same time capture the CO2 produced as a result of combusting the methane gas and sell it to other industries such as the food and beverage industry. In the contest, I was competing against people who had existing businesses and already had revenue and paying customers. Regardless of me only having an idea, I was able to make it to 8th place out of 850 people!

OS:  That’s amazing, Fahad!  Congratulations!!  Can you share a “fun fact” about yourself?
FA:  I have lived in four countries so far and the longest country I have lived in is actually not Saudi Arabia (my home country). It is Egypt.

We are so proud of Fahad and applaud his innovation!  We know he has a very bright future ahead, and we’ll be following his future career endeavors with interest.  To learn more about our student alumni and current staff, click the embedded links or visit the "About" section of our website.