One of the major challenges is to use catalysis in providing benign process for chemical industries and in protecting the environment. The impact of our work is to scientifically create the fundamental knowledge on creating and designing new catalysts that can impact the processes and improve the existing one and optimize its efficiency and economically. The group works closely on numerous projects with a number of industrial partners, as well as having academic partnerships with the Departments of reputed universities. The CRE group is trying to mitigate the impact of waste streams be it liquid, solid or gas using different catalytic techniques. Major thrust areas that our research team is focussed are-
Biomass conversion area is primarily classified into two segments in our lab i.e. (i) high temperature processing to produce fuels, we are working on pyrolysis of biomass to produce bio oil, combustible gases and catalyst grade biochar (ii) low temperature processing to produce value added chemicals, our research area includes pre-treatment, extraction of sugars and lignin followed by their catalytic conversion into building other high value chemicals. The overall theme for biomass conversion area research is to develop an integrated biorefinery with zero waste discharge to the environment.
Carbon dioxide is being considered as a source of carbon for fuels and chemicals production. This idea could be a promising strategy for countering global warming and climate change. We have been working on thermo-catalytic and photo-catalytic routes for CO conversion. We had developed a novel highly active and stable catalyst for dry reforming of methane. Currently, our focus has shifted to the utilization and conversion of industrial flue gas via tri-reforming of methane process. Photo-catalytic processes are interesting as they utilize inexhaustible solar energy. However, the CO conversion efficiency of these processes is very low. We have been working on new directions for improvement of activity and selectivity of the photo-catalytic reactions for solar fuels and chemicals production.
Valorisation of postconsumer waste plastic comprising polyethylene and polypropylene is carried out at lab scale following two-step approach in a fixed bed reactor system. The two-step approach has been investigated with thermal cracking of waste plastic followed by catalytic cracking of evolved hydrocarbon gases using solid acid catalysts for the formation of fuel range liquid hydrocarbons. The recovery of aromatic compounds especially naphthenes can be a potential source of fuel range compounds rather than as a chemical feedstock.
We are also targeting E-waste, which is the fastest growing waste stream with an annual growth rate of 3-5%, containing various toxic substances and therefore unregulated accumulation may lead to a serious threat to human health and the environment. Metals and plastic are the major components of e- waste with a share of 61% and 21% respectively. Therefore, we aim to develop sustainable technology for e-waste management by conversion of e-waste plastic into valuable product followed by the separation of different metals for further reuse. The individual metals will be recovered from the separated metal fraction using the green approach.
Global necessity for petroleum crude is continuously increasing due to high dependency on oil, gas and various other petroleum products. Natural gas (methane) is as an alternative to petroleum for the production of chemicals and other clean liquid fuels. Direct non-oxidative methane conversion into aromatic hydrocarbons is an excellent approach to exploit the natural gas. Zeolite supported 3d and 4d transition metal catalysts are used for direct methane conversion into aromatic compounds with high selectivity and conversion.
Hydrogen is used largely in refineries, fertilizer and petrochemical industries. It also is being considered as a clean carrier for the fuel cell and onboard vehicular application. Most of the hydrogen is commercially produced via steam reforming of natural gas. Catalytic decomposition of methane to pure hydrogen is an important and economical alternative to produce COx-free hydrogen and carbon nanotubes (CNTs). This research work aims at the development of suitable catalysts for the direct conversion of methane to hydrogen and CNTs. The current research involves the catalyst development for methane decomposition, CNT separation technique, application of produced CNTs.
The expeditious industrialization, urbanization and population boom have led to the decline in the availability of clean water. The ever-increasing demand for hygienic water has prompted the development of technologies that can be used for treating polluted water with heavy metals, microbes, and pesticides. Currently, we aim to develop novel technology for water disinfection for addressing the problem of scarcity of disinfected water. Nanotechnology has been employed to efficiently facilitate the green synthesis of silver nanoparticles and/or carbon-nanotube (CNTs) based hybrid aerogels which can be effectively used in water purification including the capacitive deionization of light metal salts, removal of organic dyes or major heavy metal pollutants like arsenic and to clean up offshore oil spills.