Converting waste to fuel: way forward to a resilient planet

Dr Lakhveer Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science published a book titled “Waste to Sustainable Energy: MFCs – Prospects through Prognosis”. This book has been featured in the list of Best Waste Management books of all time by CNN, Forbes, and Inc-Book Authority. The book has been awarded this stature by venerated reviewers of the International Expert Committee, as well as global leaders of the discipline.

A Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC) bio-refinery treat water using microorganisms and converts waste products and byproducts into fuel. This entails efficient waste management along with contributing to the generation of renewable fuel, and products that foster sustainable development. Addressing the present challenges in waste management, bioenergy, bioproduct recovery, and commercial sustainability, this book on MFCs emphasize on an array of mechanisms, routes, and reaction engineering approaches for extensive transformation of waste to wealth.

Extensive use of fossil fuels for energy emits carbon dioxide and other harmful gases adversely affecting the environment and leading to soaring global warming. Subsequently, domestic, agricultural waste products from animal facilities, refineries, and industries cause a tremendous environmental burden. Energy systems from MFCs enable the treatment and recycling of wastes, preventing environmental problems, and offsetting the pollution loads. Dr Lakhveer informs, “We are aiming at ensuring a sustainable and resilient environment that eliminates any potential odds of future climate change. Though globalization has preceded the escalation in production processes, a significant quantum of the waste materials generated through these practices can be transformed into fuels with the help of MFCs. Efficacies of this mechanism would ensure a paradigm shift built on the principles of sustainability.”

This book focuses on the MFCs with various combinations of substrates generating bioelectricity with valued co-products. Essentially, the book provides fundamental ideas on MFC technologies, entailing various design and modeling aspects with examples. Further, the book illustrates distinctive aspects of basic sciences, reactor configuration, application, and market feasibility of MFCs. Critically assessing the feasibility of waste-powered MFCs for sustainable bioenergy production, the book highlights the tradeoff between resource needs and energy production. The extensive research and details in the book will help academicians, entrepreneurs, and industrialists to understand the scope and challenges empowering them to select unique, and specific integrated approaches in unit processes.

Advancing his research to mitigate environmental issues, Dr Lakhveer will continue to explore bioenergy, water treatment, bioelectrochemical systems, and nanomaterial synthesis for energy and water applications, and bioreactors development. Also, he is presently editing two books that address several environmental challenges.

Dr Anil K Suresh is a renowned scientist in the area of Bio-Nanotechnology . The prestigious Ramalingaswami Fellow is now an Associate Professor at the Department of Biology, SRM University-AP. He recently developed an innovative catalyst that he named “Jumbo Catalyst” to address the demanding challenges in heterogeneous catalysis. This 3D-megacatalyst generated using “intact eggshell” food-waste is hand-removable with an overall surface area of ~ 78 cm2, featuring wide catalytic support and is highly stable in polar and non-polar solvents for ultra-efficient heterogeneous catalysis. This megacatalyst can overcome the existing limitations such as cost, time, labour, sustainability, mechanical stability, diverse-reactions, large-volumes, aggregation, recyclability and precursor recovery. Dr Anil K Suresh owns the copyrights for this pathbreaking invention through a published patent.

Catalysis is widely used in various industrial processes to produce desired end products. Research in this area substantially evolved from using organic reagents and metals to the adaptation of metal-based nanoparticles. Supported catalysis is a fast-emerging class of catalysis using inert and supportive frameworks with a potential for efficient reuse and recovery of the catalyst. Synthesis of metal-organic frameworks, fibres, polymers and hydrogel-based catalytic nanoparticle loadings are being reported. However, these are associated with intrinsic complexities and are produced using toxic ingredients, ecologically unbenign and are expensive.

The megacatalyst, generated by Dr Anil and his team using eggshell food-waste in the process, is autogenic, facile, cost-efficient and entirely biodegradable. Dr Anil strongly believes that theirs is the biggest catalyst developed so far. The intact eggshell provides an extensive support area for ultra-efficient catalysis. Applicability of this megacatalyst is so simple that even a layman can use it with ease. Moreover, this supported megacatalyst can be effortlessly removed from the reaction mixture post application as it can be recovered by hand. Catalytic reactions using the megacatalyst can be controlled as the tuff, and uniform coating protects the shedding of nanoparticles. Dr Anil Says, “We presume that the mega-size of the catalyst could be instrumental in several challenging applications. As a proof of concept, we selected three eclectic applications including- 1. Large volume sewage dye degradations, 2. Gram-scale hydrogenation of nitroarenes and 3. Transesterification of used oil to biodiesel- which are all difficult to achieve, highly challenging but are now practically feasible using our megacatalyst.”

“Keeping in mind the ultra-catalytic proficiency of our catalyst that can be simply resourced from continuously available eggshell waste, with minimal maintenance for the large scale practical implementation, we welcome interested beneficiaries from diverse heterogeneous catalysis sectors for bringing this innovation to execution,” Dr Anil asserted.

The team is currently investigating to design and fabricate other species of megacatalyst using other significant metal precursors and earth-abundant metals to expand the applicability in allowance of diverse reactions such as oxidation of CO, Methane, Mono/Polyhydric alcohols, hydrogenation of alkynes, Nitroaromatics and CO2.
Dr Anil K. Suresh concluded that this breakthrough conception would not have been possible without the rigorous efforts of his team and the continuous support from the university management. Dr Anil Suresh thanked his PhD students Chandra Bhatt, Divya Parimi, Tharun Bollu and Madhura. Dr Anil especially thanked Professor D Narayana Rao, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, SRM University-AP for his extensive support in all his scientific endeavours since his association with the university.

Khushboo Sharma is one of the brightest gems in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. She is currently pursuing her third year in undergraduate studies. She has recently bagged an envious summer internship offer at one of the most reputed companies- Adobe India, a multinational software company. Through their women-only hiring challenge “SheCodes”, Khushboo not only bagged an internship offer but she may also have an opportunity of a Pre Placement Offer, upon successful review after this internship with attractive pay package. She will be joining Adobe India in May 2021 for the internship of 10-12 weeks with a stipend of 1 lakh rupees per month.

Mr Vivekanandan, Assistant General Manager, Department of Corporate Relations and Career Services (CR&CS), says “It is a proud moment for the university. SRM University-AP is full of bright students with huge potential. It is our sincere responsibility to bring out the best in them and help them find the right place in the industry.” Khusboo asserted that the training process in the Department of CR&CS was rigorous. Be it attitude development or interview preparations, the CR&CS department has extended continuous guidance and support along with mock sessions. Mr Vivekanandan further informed that the training programmes of SRM University-AP are designed by the experts to make students prepare for every challenge that they might face in a competitive world. They even organise some training sessions that are company-specific. Needless to say, that the placement department is not ready to leave any stone unturned when it comes to the future of its students. The placement team thoroughly guided Khushboo in the four-month-long hiring process in Adobe.

Khushboo expressed her gratitude, saying that it would not have been possible for her to crack this challenge without the continuous guidance and support provided by her teachers and the placement team. The modernised industry-oriented curriculum helped her gain the necessary in-depth knowledge to excel in her studies. Khushboo is also a part of tech-based clubs of SRM university-AP and always strives to think something out of the box. Her zeal towards scaling new heights and perseverance her made her achieve this offer.

Advancing the celebration, Prof D Narayana Rao, Pro Vice-Chancellor, SRM AP took the virtual podium to comment “Science and Technology is the driving force for the economic development of India. We need to encourage young scholars by providing a vibrant and conducive research environment. Expanding the frontiers of knowledge by triggering interest among students must be the priority of the institutions. Also, focus should be on translational research with societal applications through collaborative research to make our nation a global leader.”

The team comprises of undergraduate students – Mr Raviteja Reddy, Mr A Chaitanya, Mr P M Aditya, Mr K Praveen, K Yeshashwini, A Sravya, K Vasu, and G Priyanka along with faculty members – Dr Venkata N Nori, Associate Professor, and Dr Panchagnula Jayaprakash Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Aditya reveals, “We endured several challenges in various aspects of retrofitting the conventional petrol motorcycle. Also, designing a portable battery system, enhancing the performance of the Hub motor, Chassis improvements, etc. enriched our understanding of electric vehicles and manufacturing techniques.”

Conversion of IC engine bike to an e-bike is considered to be a potential business venture by the team. Sharing their forthcoming plans, Aditya informs, “We are working on additional designs and ideas to incorporate the best possible features to make the e-bike more reliable. We heartily thank Prof D Narayana Rao, Pro Vice-Chancellor, for his continuous support. Also, Dr Venkata Nori and Dr Jayaprakash propelled us to create a steadfast model by relentlessly helping us in improving our design to make our model more cost-effective.”

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Prof Siva Sankar Y, Professor & Head, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, SRM University-AP, Andhra Pradesh published a research paper titled “60 GHz common gate single stage current reuse cascode LNA topology for high data rate applications” in the Journal of Electronic Materials. In the recent era, wireless communication has become essential in the lives of mankind. The data transfer rate of wireless systems varies from a few kilobits per second (kbps) to gigabits per second (Gbps), and the distance of communication supported by these technologies fluctuate from a few meters to kilometers.

Gbps transmission entails the transfer of huge data between different devices such as high-definition (HD) video cameras, smartphones, HD set-top boxes, HD DVD players, and high-definition printers. Realizing Gpbs transmission requires operating frequency of several tens of GHz to hundreds of GHz. To meet the escalating demand for high data transfer rates, wireless technologies are penetrating the millimeter wave technology domain, which supports transmission data rates up to Gbps within small distances.

Layout of the proposed circuitMillimeter (mm) wave spectrum can be used for such high-speed wireless communication. Dr Siva Sankar informs, “One of the major challenges in realizing mm wave based transceivers is the design of the CMOS analog RF components. In the design of CMOS RF components, power dissipation, and speed are the two important and conflicting factors that lay stringent requirements on RF design. In our work, RF component design has been used in mmWave transceivers.”

Dr Siva Sankar and his research group developed a high frequency, low noise LNA that can be used in mmWave transceivers to facilitate high data transfer rates. The professor explains, “The designed LNA can be used in mm wave transceivers. The speed (operating frequency) of these components is chosen to be 60GHz because the spectrum around 60GHz is available for unlicensed operation in many regulatory domains including the USA, Japan, Canada and Australia.”. Advancing the research, Dr Siva Sankar and his research group will focus on high speed RF components such as mixers, PLL, and others to realize 60 GHz.

Alleviating healthcare challenges by augmenting efficacy of antibiotics

Dr Sutharsan Govindarajan, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, SRM University – AP, Andhra Pradesh received an outlay of Rs 55 lakhs by the Department of Science and Technology (DST)- Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Government of India to advance the project “Mechanistic understanding of bacterial cytoskeleton inhibition by antibiotics and novel bacteriophage proteins”. The research grant is provided to support active researchers in undertaking research and development in the frontiers of Science and Engineering. Dr Sutharsan exclaims, “It is thrilling to see that my proposal has been accepted for funding. This is a huge recognition for the science that we do at SRM University – AP. Through this funding, I will be able to establish an independent molecular microbiology lab at the university.”

While the entire world is aggressively working to end the menace of COVID19, antimicrobial resistance has been a long-standing unsolved threat. This project is dedicated to interpreting the mechanism of inhibition of bacterial cytoskeleton by antibiotics, which has an immediate impact on the society as it strives to unravel the mystery of ‘how bacteria are able to outsmart antibiotics and survive’. In this project, Dr Sutharsan will be probing antibiotics to comprehend the response of bacteria to them. The scholar says, “Currently, antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest health care challenges of this century leading to serious clinical manifestations. In countries like India, the situation is alarming since nearly 58 thousand new-born babies are dying every year due to bacteria escaping the antibiotics.”

Dr Sutharsan informs, “Largely, solutions to antibiotic resistance problem is directed towards discovering new antibiotics and therapies. However, there are hundreds of existing antibiotics that could be made more effective to kill bacteria. But these antibiotics are not considered as compelling options in the market due to their poor efficiency or lack of understanding. In this project, we will investigate one such antibiotic and attempt to assess its response to the killing agent. By understanding how bacteria escape the antibiotic action, we hope to find effective strategies to combat them.”

The laboratory of phage-bacteria interaction will be established and led by Dr Sutharsan at SRM University-AP, where he will be relentlessly working on various aspects of bacteriology including antibiotic resistance, bacteriophage engineering, and therapy. Sharing his plans of advancing the work, Dr Sutharsan says “In the near future, we are planning to connect with the clinicians and explore the possibility of taking our research findings to actual patients – a bench to bedside model of research.”

Research Day Celebration 2021

“Startups and Government bodies must be complementing one another to steer space industry towards excellence”- Sri S Somanath, Director, VSSC

Research Day 2021 ceremony at SRM University-AP, Andhra Pradesh encompasses various endeavors aimed at appreciating and encouraging scholars to carry out extensive research works to enrich the society. Applauding the initiative, Dr P Sathyanarayanan, President, SRM AP stated “Research Day is when SRM University-AP commemorate the faculty and students for their outstanding research contributions. This university, though just a three-year-old one, has grown leaps and bounds in research and is now clearly the front runner among all the universities in the region.”

Prof V S Rao, Vice-Chancellor, SRM AP welcomed the Chief Guest Sri S Somanath, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, and other revered audience. Prof V S Rao highlighted, “Research day brings an excellent opportunity for the scientific community to showcase their accomplishments and impactful research works.”

Advancing the celebration, Prof D Narayana Rao, Pro Vice-Chancellor, SRM AP took the virtual podium to comment “Science and Technology is the driving force for the economic development of India. We need to encourage young scholars by providing a vibrant and conducive research environment. Expanding the frontiers of knowledge by triggering interest among students must be the priority of the institutions. Also, focus should be on translational research with societal applications through collaborative research to make our nation a global leader.”

During his motivating speech on “The Indian Space Enterprise Achievements & New Directions”, Dr S Somanath interpreted the complexities of Space Engineering by describing details pertaining to space infrastructure, and technology elements in rocket production involving the development of space vehicles capable of operating for years unattended in the space. He further informs, “The high cost and low volume production remains the challenge associated with Space Engineering.” He also stated that there are increasing demand and scope for satellite startups and the export potential is on the higher side for satellites in India.

Dr S Somanath proceeded to illuminate the audience on the changing horizons of the space industry, contributed by the emerging technologies such as integrating satellites, drones, and terrestrial imagery. In addition, he addressed the disruptive technologies that led to reusable rockets, space technology-driven drones, etc., enhancing the market substantially for the satellite production and reducing the market for the launching vehicles.

Consequently, Dr S Somanath accentuated that the government bodies such as ISRO, IN-SPAC, and NSIL should remodel its direction of operation. He suggests, “Government of India should be opening the space sector and assist the new participants by sharing technological expertise. Startups and government bodies must be complementing one another to steer this industry towards excellence.”

Progressing with the celebration, eminent scientific works and contributions of various faculty, research scholars, and undergraduate students were rewarded. As part of the research day programme, the students and faculty were urged to submit abstracts of their research. Among 176 submissions from students and 40 from the faculty community of SRM AP, 20 were awarded with gold medals while 6 were presented with silver medals. Further, a special issue of abstracts was unveiled during the Research Day celebration that comprised of all the submitted abstracts for public consumption.

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Research Day Celebration 2021 SRM University-AP

National Voters’ Day

Awareness Programme at SRM University-AP to ensure participation in the electoral process

SRM University-AP organised a Voter Awareness Programme on National Voters’ Day to inspire voters to enhance their participation in the electoral process. National Voters’ Day is observed every year on January 25 to spread awareness among the voters. Guest of Honour, Shri G V Ram Prasad, M.R.O. and Assistant Electoral Registration Officer-Mangalagiri explained why it is crucial for people in a democracy like India to take part in the Electoral Process. Prof D Narayana Rao, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Mr Ernest Samuel Ratnakumar, Registrar attended the event along with the faculty and staffs of SRM University- AP.

In his presidential address, Prof D N Rao explained why we have this need to celebrate National Voters’ Day. The main objective of the Voters’ Day is to ensure the facilitation of new voters and encourage their participation into casting votes. To understand this power of Democracy, one must be aware of this nation’s history. The journey from Monarchy to Democracy was arduous. In previous days, to change one’s king or leader, the people have to go through a violent process such as revolt or execution of the king. Now the process is much easier. One only needs to cast his vote to the person he prefers. In this way, only those who are chosen by the people of the country will be elected to run the nation. Therefore, it is essential to cast one’s vote. Votes are the voices of people in a democracy. In the absence of votes, the nation might not get the leaders it needs.

Shri Ram Prasad further added that the Voters’ Day was initiated by Mrs Pratibha Patil, former President of India, on the 61st foundation day of Election Commission. He said, “It is unfortunate to note that, in this largest Democracy of the world, only 50-60% of the votes are being cast in an average. It clearly shows that many people of this great country still unaware of the great power that Democracy provides them. The concept of celebrating Voters’ day came into being with this goal to make these people understand their power in deciding the nation’s future. He also informed that this year, the Government of India has agreed to launch e-EPIC card for voters’ benefit. e-EPIC is a portable document format(PDF) version of the EPIC which can be downloaded on mobile or in a self-printable form on the computer. A voter can thus store the card on his/her mobile, upload it on Digi locker or print it and self-laminate it. This is in addition to PCV EPIC being issued for fresh registration. Mr Earnest Samuel concluded reminding the audience that in or after 1947, several countries got their independence. But none carries a legacy as ours. It is each and every one of our duty to carry forward this legacy so that India can be Democratic in its true notion.

Republic Day is observed in SRM University-AP to commemorate the day on which the Constitution of India came into effect, in the year 1950, and the country became a republic. Like every year, this year too the faculty, staff and students of SRM University-AP gathered around to honour the day. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the university celebrated Republic Day by following the safety rules and regulations. The Celebration started with a Rangoli Competition, in which our neighbours from the surrounding villages joined us. This was followed by flag hoisting ceremony and march past of the staffs. Prof D Narayana Rao, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, did the honour of hoisting the National Flag. Mr Ernest Samuel Ratnakumar, Registrar; Ms Revathi B, Assistant Director-Student Affairs, Mr Abdul Mohimin, Assistant Director-Sports were among the dignitaries.

In his address, Prof Narayana Rao briefly explained India’s progress since independence in the fields of Education, Industry, Healthcare, Agriculture, Information Technology and others. At the time of independence, India was a poor country with 12% literacy rate and 35-40 years of average life expectancy. In the past 70 years, India has emerged as one of the world’s leading knowledge superpowers. Many other countries also earned independence at the same time as India’s. But only India has been able to utilise its human resources and wisdom to achieve greatness. In the following years after independence, India did not even have enough food grains to feed a country of 30 crores people. Food grains had to be imported from other countries like Myanmar. However, today, India not only is solvent enough to feed its 130-crore people but also exports food grains to other needy and poor countries. Be it agriculture, education or healthcare, India’s progress so far has been remarkable. The reputed institutes such as IITs, IISERs, NITs, IISc, ISIs, AIMs are performing beyond expectations educating the people of this country. Leading research organisations and regulatory bodies such as CSIR, ISRO, DRDO, DST, DBT are rigorously working to make this country do big and achieve big. “These organisations came into being with great vision, and we feel very proud to say that they are on par with any other organisations of the leading developed countries. COVID-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented crisis all over the world. But Indian biotech companies were able to make the COVID vaccines within a very short span of time. It is a moment of pride for every Indian that India has become the world’s vaccine factory. No other country has the capability to produce vaccines in such a large number”, asserted Prof Rao. He further added that India had progressed very much in establishing communication even in the remote villages with the help of satellites. India’s advancement in designing, developing and launching satellites is exceptional. Data connectivity and Internet are the basic needs of today’s world, and India is the country that provides such connectivity at the lowest price in the world. Over the years after independence, India has learnt to use its human resource effectively. In today’s world, India produces the most numbers of skilled professionals to meet the need of this era. Indians are scaling greater heights in every sphere. Satya Nadela, Sundar Pichai are a few examples of how Indians are taking over the world with their brilliance and intellect. This country has been politically independent for a while, and it is now the high time to be technologically independent. “We are progressing very fast, and we have the power and potential to emerge as one of the major economic powers in the coming days. With a capability to turn every crisis into an opportunity, we move forward towards an ‘Atma-Nirbhar Bharat’ following our Prime Minister’s advice of Innovate, Patent, Produce and Prosper,” said Prof Narayana Rao.

Adhering to the spirits of patriotism, Mr Raviteja Reddy, Mr A Chaitanya, Mr P M Aditya, Mr K Praveen, K Yeshashwini, A Sravya, K Vasu, G Priyanka, students of mechanical engineering, demonstrated their eco-friendly bike which was made recently by converting IC Engine bike to electric bike, under the mentorship of Dr Venkata Nori and Dr P Jayaprakash Sharma. Their successful venture was highly praised by the dignitaries present in the event.

The event concluded with the Prize Distribution Ceremony. The Winners and Participants of Rangoli Competition and Fancy-Dress Competition for Kids were congratulated by Prof D Narayana Rao, Mr Ernest Samuel Ratnakumar and Smt Priya. Prof Rao felicitated Dr Sutharsan Govindrajan, Department of Biology; Dr Mannathan, Dr Mahesh Kumar Ravva, Dr Nimai Mishra, Department of Chemistry; Dr Jatis Dash, Dr Siddhartha Ghosh, Department of Physics for their research contribution in Nature Index Ranking-2020.

Since 1984, India celebrates National Youth Day on January 12. This date was chosen to honour the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, one of India’s greatest spiritual and social leaders and to encourage the youth in the country. He saw promise for the future in every child and believed that with “muscles of iron” and “nerves of steel” they could bring about the social change required for the sustainable growth of this great country. Swami Vivekananda himself personified the eternal energy of the youth and a restless quest for truth. In a country like India, where almost 50 per cent of its population is under the age of 25, making celebrations that empower young people is essential because the country’s future rides on their shoulders.

Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu monk from India, who shook the world with his knowledge, wisdom, positivity and affection. He played a significant role in the development of Indian nationalism during the 19th and 20th century. His teachings and philosophy made the people rethink various aspects of education, faith, character building, as well as social issues pertaining to India.

According to Swami Vivekananda, a country’s future depends on its people.” Vivekananda believed education is the manifestation of perfection already in men. He thought it a pity that the existing education system did not enable a person to stand on his own feet, nor did it teach him self-confidence and self-respect. To Vivekananda, education was not only a collection of information but something more meaningful; he felt education should be man-making, life-giving and character-building. To him, education was an assimilation of noble ideas. He also told the youth- Set yourselves to the task of spreading education among the masses.

SRM University-AP, Andhra Pradesh, a multi-stream research-intensive university, came into being with a vision of making nation builders. SRMAP has always put its students first. That is the reason the students have come up with transformative ideas and challenging developments. The students of SRMAP is globally recognised for their intellect and brilliance. During the COVID-19 wars, our student developed cost-effective face-shield to support his nation. The applications developed by our students for various societal well-being are recognised worldwide and celebrated with prizes and accolades. The budding entrepreneurs of SRMAP have founded a start-up- OurEye.ai, which enhances surveillance by enabling CCTV cameras to produce actionable insights using AI-ML technology. The nascent university also has a student who holds a Guinness World Record for art and creativity.

Furthermore, not only students but also the young faculty members of SRMAP are very enthusiastic about making a change for good for their nation. Our faculty and students have published 350+ papers in reputed journals in two years along with 27 funded projects and 16 patents. Our young faculty is recognised among the world’s top 2% biotechnologists. The tool developed by our faculty engineer is being used and applauded by senior NASA scientists.

Following the path as shown by Swami Vivekananda, SRM University-AP sets on a voyage to Channelising Youth Power for Nation Building. The university focuses on the overall growth of the students as advocated by Swamiji. SRMAP inspires students to follow their dreams and prepares them to be able enough to live their dream. The passion and dedication of its faculty members are touching the lives of the students. The nascent university has just begun its journey and will not stop until we meet our goal to make India greatest of all. We are confident that with the right mindset and guidance, India will again retrieve its former glory and SRM University-AP aims to be a proud contributor in the process.