innovative system developed by two Indian post-doctoral mechanical
engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to
transform the white-hot fracking industry is caught in a US visa
limbo, according to a media report.
The system developed by Anurag Bajpayee and Prakash Narayan
Govindan offers a cheaper, cleaner way to dispose of the billions
of gallons of contaminated water produced by oil and natural gas
hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the Washington Post reported
It "just might be a breakthrough that creates wealth and jobs in
the United States and transforms the white-hot industry," it said.
"That is, as long as the foreign-born inventors aren't forced to
leave the country."
They, according to the Post, say they are about to close on
millions of dollars in financing, and they expect to hire 100
employees in the next couple of years.
Scientific American magazine called the water-decontamination
technology developed by Bajpayee one of the top 10 "world-changing
ideas" of 2012.
But their student visas expire soon, both before summer, and
because of the restrictive US visa system, they may have to move
their company to India or another country, the Post said.
Even as Washington is focused on the issue of 11 million
undocumented migrants, the influential US daily used the plight of
the Indian duo to illustrate the vagaries of "immigration laws
that chase away highly skilled foreigners educated in US
universities, often with degrees funded by US taxpayers".
It costs about $250,000 to educate a single PhD student and the US
government pays for at least 80 percent of MIT's graduate
research, according to Leon Sandler, executive director of MIT's
Deshpande Centre for Technical Innovation, cited by the Post.
"Essentially we are funding their research, spending a
quarter-million dollars in taxpayer money; then we make it hard
for these people to stay here," Sandler was quoted as saying.
His group helps start-ups and provided nearly $150,000 to support
Bajpayee and Narayan. "If you want more innovation in this
country, fix the visa situation," he said.
Bajpayee and Narayan want to stay in the United States, according
to the Post. They don't want to move to Chile or Israel or
Singapore, which seem too small and too far from their main
markets in the US oil and gas fields.
But if they can't legally stay in the United States, they have
other options to consider, they were quoted as saying noting their
biggest financial backer is Indian and is pressuring them to build
their company at home.
"If it doesn't happen in the US," Narayan said, "we will make it
happen somewhere else."