Energy, Climate and Sustainability

Ongoing research in the Energy, Environment and Sustainability area, addresses non-fossil energy, industrial energy, climate and environment. In the area of energy, major research  topics under investigation are: Biomass and biofuels, Fuel cells, Solar thermal power, Process modeling and energy analysis and Combustion systems. In the area of biomass and biofuels, research addresses challenges at different scales. This includes work on improving biomass productivity through metabolic engineering, enhancing fuel production and selectivity through enzyme improvements, and achieving techno- economic feasibility through optimization approaches. In the area of fuel cells, research is aimed towards better selection of electrode materials by understanding processes that influence performance degradation. Work in the area of solar thermal power plants is focused in solving the challenging control problems in the domain. In industrial applications, work is mainly focused on industrial process modelling and energy integration as well as risk analysis. Research is also being carried out on in-situ coal gasification and biomass combustion under the theme of combustion systems.

In the broad and cross-cutting area of environment, which includes climate and sustainability, highly complex systems are being studied through phenomenological understanding and modeling of atmospheric constituents and transport, statistical methods for understanding and reducing uncertainty and complex systems-based modeling tools. The specific topics under investigation are: Climate, Sustainability, Water pollution, and Carbon capture systems.

Sub Research areas

Simulation study of Enhance Oil Recovery

The crude oil in direct contact with mineral surface needs to be displaced using external medium (solvent + additives) in the secondary and tertiary phase of recovery. The mechanism of replacement is governed by the structural and energetic behaviour of interfacial system (solvent + additives + hydrocarbon oil) at the mineral surface. This project is aimed to obtained molecular understanding of the interfacial system (crude oil+solvent+mineral) to design better displacing agents for the economic recovery of oil.

Materials for water purification and desalination (TA or FA only)

Although earth is covered with 70% of water, only 2% of it is available as fresh drinkable water. Access to this fresh water is scarce in many parts of the country. The groundwater contamination due to industrial pollution and geological minerals leads to many health issues, especially in childrens and women. Conversion of sea-water to fresh water is an expensive and energy-intensive process. The aim of this project is to find organic and inorganic porous materials for water purification.

Design of nanoporous materials for gas separation (TA or FA only)

Natural gas meets around 20-25% of world energy demands. Overall the world has around 200 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserve and new reservoirs are being found. Methane gas constitutes around 80-90% of natural gas and for economical utilization of methane as fuel, efficient separation technology is required. The aim of this project is to design new nanoporous materials for methane separation and storage from natural gas.

Optimization of food-energy-water nexus considering climate change

Food production, energy production and water availability are intricately related. It has been increasingly acknowledged that these systems should not be looked at in isolation. The area of food-energy-water (FEW) nexus has, therefore, gained attention. Considering the nexus is particularly true in the Indian context with our substantial food demand, limited land availability, already stressed water resources, and increasing energy demands. Climate change may further stress these systems.