Development of Advanced Functional Materials for Energy, Environment and Resource Conservation

A General View of EMU’s Science and Technology Activities

         Molecular approaches to environmental problems present researchers with enormous challenges wherein many questions related to materials can be addressed. The ongoing R&D in materials science all over the world therefore, focuses on the field of structured nanoporous material, including approaches in the synthesis and functionality, accompanied by structure elucidation / documentation and more recently molecular modeling aided interpretation / prediction of structure property relationship for a variety of materials. Such studies are bound to add to the existing knowledge of molecular design of tailor-made materials for specific applications including those related to energy and environmental applications. In order to address these emerging areas of great relevance EMU was constituted in January 2003 with explicit aim to focus on development of new materials for addressing issues related to energy, environment and resource conservation. In this connection, work is being persued at EMU in the area of development of structural analogues related to molecular sieves & zeolites, surface functionalized zeolites, pervoskite based catalytic materials, multifunctional metals/ metal oxide materials, carbon and photocatalytic materials. The ongoing work stresses on the importance of understanding the recent advances in materials synthesis and characterization, and the applications of materials for environmental pollution control and energy related applications. Recent advances in molecular design, synthesis, and characterization, of various materials including, catalytic materials, photo-catalytic materials, functionalized materials, and oxide materials are being addressed. New materials such as surface modified MCM-41 materials, zeolite based photocatalytic materials, substituted and un-substituted pervoskite materials, visible-light-active TiO2 based photocatalysts, thermally stable perovskite type ruthenates, waste materials based carbon, carbon molecular sieves and synthesis of related microporus materials with emphasis on their selectivity using new synthesis strategies are being addressed. Several environmental and energy technologies have emerged with substantial benefits from new materials which includes reduction in waste and improved energy efficiency, environmentally benign composite structures, waste remediation and energy conversation. These materials are being used for their potential environmental applications in the areas of CO2 capture and valorization, indoor air quality, diesel exhaust emission control, hydrogen storage and supply, catalytic methane combustion, artificial photosynthesis and water and waste-water treatment with specific reference to VOCs, arsenic and phenolics. Molecular environmental science (MES) helps to build bridges between chemistry and emerging worlds of nanotechnology and genomics. It has been identified as research theme of NEERI in the XIth five year plan. It is a cross scaling process as it is imperative to develop knowledge base in more than one domain to address a particular environmental issue which is complex and dynamic in nature. Biomaterial development is one such emerging interdisciplinary area with tremendous future prospects. It involves research in typical borderline area between materials science and biology with explicit aim to resolve complex and dynamic environmental problems. It is intended to address the issue of biomaterial development by immobilizing carbonic anhydrase in materials for bio-mimetic sequestration and other related applications.

Major Research Areas:

Material Synthesis and Characterization

§         Molecular sieves & zeolites

§         Surface functionalized zeolites

§         Pervoskite based catalytic materials

§         Multifunctional metals/  metal oxide materials

§         Photocatalytic Materials

§         Carbon Materials

§         Nano-biocatalyst

§         Hierarchical mesoporous materials

§         Bio-materials

 Environmental and Energy Related Applications of Materials

Cleaner energy production systems

§                     Artificial Photosynthesis & Water splitting

§                     Hydrogen production, storage & supply

§                     Catalytic methane combustion

Vehicular emission control

§                    Diesel exhaust emission control

Innovative monitoring & control systems for non-conventional pollutants

§                     Indoor air pollution & control: VOCs

§                     Water & waste water treatment Arsenates, fluorides, Phenols, VOCs  

Carbon Capture sequestration Technologies

§                    Carbon dioxide capture

§                    Nano-materials for iron-release in from fertilization

Soil Remediation

§         Zeolite based in situ-immobilization of heavy metals

§         Zeolite based in situ-immobilization of oxyanions