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

Integration of Occupational Health and Safety and Sustainability Principles for Development of Technologies and Process Designs

The need for effective environmental governance has been gaining wider engagement through emphases on adoption of sustainability principles and goals. With growing production, trade and use of a widening variety of chemicals, business, regulatory and research attention continues to focus on the environmental, occupational and public health consequences of chemical processes and exposures. Occupational safety and health (OSH) have not yet been adequately promoted as a constituent of environmental sustainability.

Operationalization of the Principles of Circular Economy in the Indian Process Industry: Challenges and Strategies

The principles of circular economy (CE) have been conceived to achieve an appropriate balance between economic, environmental and social imperatives so as to overcome the hitherto negative impacts of their disjunction in industrial practice. Nevertheless, the operationalization of CE principles in the industry remains fraught with challenges as there is often a predisposition to prioritization of economic performance over environmental and social, in order to retain competitiveness.

Electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction: Multiscale modelling of transport, catalyst surface evolution, and reaction processes

According to the Paris climate accord signed in 2016 with the aim of substantially lowering the risks and impacts of climate change, the goal is to pursue technologies that can limit the rise in average global temperature to ~1.5 degree C above the pre-industrial levels by 2050. One of the important greenhouse gas emissions being targeted is carbon dioxide. Currently, production of commodities crucially linked to growth and development, such as cement, steel, plastic, ammonia and aluminum, are resulting in large CO2 emissions.

Machine learning models for designing next-generation electrolytes for Li batteries

All solid-state batteries using lithium metal as anodes are currently being explored for high power and high energy density batteries. Traditional lithium ion batteries (LIBs) using liquid electrolytes pose significant issues, e.g., the organic electrolytes are flammable and undergo degradation. These issues can be overcome using solid electrolytes such as sulfide-based glassy and glass-ceramic solid electrolytes. Such materials have shown to possess very high ionic conductivities and excellent mechanical properties.

Modeling and Simulation of Li-ion Batteries and Fuel Cells Impedance Response

Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) offers a way to determine and quantify the transport and kinetic processes occurring in energy storage and conversion systems such as Li-ion batteries, fuel cells and electrolyzer. EIS is a powerful technique that helps in quantifying the various transport and kinetic resistances hampering the performance of the said systems. Apart from that, health monitoring of batteries and fuel cells (estimating the remaining life and capacity fade) has become very critical for enabling e-mobility.

Enabling Fast Charging and Safe Operation for Li-ion Battery: Modeling, Simulation and Optimization

Battery charging time is one of the most critical factors that will govern the penetration of electric vehicle in the market. Reduction in battery charging time is also desirable for portable electronics including cellphones. Significant research is underway to reduce the charging time of a lithium-ion battery. Ensuring safety while fast charging as well as discharging is also crucial for battery usage.

Global sustainability assessment using system dynamics modeling

Climate change and excessive resource consumption have led to serious concerns regarding the future sustainability of our planet. The next few decades are expected to be critical and will decide whether we are able to address these problems and reduce our environmental footprint. Dynamic models that can assess future impacts of different strategies are needed.

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.