SIRE 2022-23

DST-SERB international research experience (SIRE) is a coveted opportunity for passionate researchers to collaborate with leading institutions across the globe for high-end research training in frontier areas of Science and Technology. Dr Raviteja from the Department of Civil Engineering has earned this opportunity through his resourceful project titled “Sustainable Ash based Geosynthetic Clay Liners for MSW Landfills”. The work proposes a sustainable design of solid waste landfill liners using industrial by-products like fly ash.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills need to be lined at the bottom to avoid contaminant transport. The conveyance of noxious pollutants from the landfill to the natural ground can be restricted using natural or synthetic barriers. In general, natural materials like clays/bentonites in combination with geomembranes (GMB) are used in liners. However, to increase the strength properties and reduce the compressibility characteristics, bentonites are often mixed with sand. With the increased cost and scarcity of sand, there is a renewed interest among the researchers to identify an alternative material to replace sand proportion in compacted GCLs in MSW landfills. Among several materials, fly ash is proved to be a potential substitute for sand in landfill liners.

This experience will serve as an excellent opportunity to work at one of the world-renowned, state-of-the-art geoenvironmental laboratories at the University of Illinois Chicago. “I feel fortunate to collaborate with Prof. Krishna Reddy, one of the eminent researchers in the geoenvironmental research fraternity. My research at UIC would be on developing sustainable ash-based geosynthetic clay liners for MSW landfills. I also wish to pursue recent advances in this area and identify a framework for my future research”, said Dr Raviteja. The project will help him establish strong research collaborations with experts in the geotechnical labs at other US universities. He can also make field visits to identify the practical problems and direct his research toward the real-field applicability.

With an enriching research exposure at UIC, he will be able to formulate innovative and advanced research problems to enhance the visibility and applicability of his project. Presenting this work at various conferences and seminars will also attract various potential collaborations and MoU with other universities abroad. According to him, “this is a less explored domain that will immensely benefit research scholars and undergraduate students to invent new possibilities and scopes in the future”.

Dr Sheela Singh

Research at SRM University-AP shows that applying a composite coating of chromium aluminum carbide (CR2 ALC) to the engine piston rings not only improves piston performance but also increases engine life, efficiency and lubrication. The university obtained a patent for the same under the title “NICKEL MOLYBDENUM ALUMINIUM (NIMOAL) – CHROMIUM ALUMINIUM CARBIDE (CR2ALC) MAX PHASE COMPOSITE COATINGS FOR AUTOMOTIVE APPLICATIONS AND A METHOD FOR MAKING THE SAME”.

For any vehicle to run efficiently for a long time, its engine must be good. The rings on piston further improve the engine performance. It is in this context that many efforts are being made by scientists to develop piston rings with the new scientific technologies. Dr Sheela Singh, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at SRM AP, has been conducting comprehensive research on the subject for three years with research student Deepak Davis.

Sheela singh

The piston rings of motor vehicles currently on the market have a coating with nickel molybdenum aluminum. SRM University-AP researchers say it would be better to use a composite coating made with chromium aluminum carbide instead. If the piston rings have high velocity and lubrication properties, their rigidity is good and it is better to use chromium aluminum carbide (CR2LC).

The Patent Certificate is issued by the Patent Office, Government of India, after thorough examination. University President Dr Satyanarayanan, Vice-Chancellor Prof V S Rao, Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof D Narayana Rao and others lauded Dr Sheela Singh and Deepak Davis for their fervent research and innovation. This is the second patent granted to SRM University-AP.

fan bladeBird strikes are a crucial phenomenon that should be taken into consideration while designing aircraft. Bird strikes have been reported since the early days of flight causing fatal disasters. It is estimated that around 300 people were killed, and several aircraft were destroyed because of bird strikes. A great deal of research has been conducted to tweak the design of aircraft to bring down the impact of bird strikes. Prof Prakash Jadhav and his PhD scholar Gruhalakshmi Yella from the Department of Mechanical Engineering have published a paper offering an appropriate solution in this regard.

Their paper titled “Hybrid joint interface in composite fan blade subjected to bird strike loading” has been published in the international journal, ‘Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science’ having an impact factor of 1.76. The research puts forward an ideal solution to alter the design of the aircraft fan blades which are frequently being subjected to such collisions. The duo proposes a hybrid joint interface using two fibres instead of a single fibre.

Some delamination failures observed in the trailing edge of the blades could probably increase the effect of such bird strikes. For rectifying the delamination problem, the proposed solution is to use a material with higher strain capability such as glass fibres in the areas on the fan blade which are prone to delamination, while maintaining carbon material on the remaining blade. The concept is proved by first performing a static analysis on 3D FEA coupons with an in-built hybrid interface joint and next by performing a dynamic bird strike analysis on 3D FEA coupons and sub-element models with an in-built hybrid interface.

Abstract of the Research

Fan blades are one of the most important components of an aircraft engine. Bird strikes on fan blades have always been a cause of worry and it can cause slices of birds to hit other parts of the engine which may lead to greater damage. Bird strikes cannot be completely avoided. Although current composite blades can withstand the bird strike impact, some delamination failures are still observed on the trailing edge side of the blade, possibly due to vibration bending modes. This paper talks about using two fibres in a composite blade instead of the current single fibre one. For this to be feasible, two fibre joints at various locations on the blade must be properly designed. The design criteria used here is the lowest inter-laminar shear strain level at critical joint locations.

air filter mechanism

Studies and research on air pollution have sparked worldwide interest in the recent decades to overcome the imminent threat of air pollution. The air filtration mechanism is one of the efficient ways to capture particulate matter (PM) and purify the air. An innovatory air filtration mechanism blending polyacrylonitrile (PAN)/polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) polymer nanofibers has been proposed by Prof Ranjit Thapa and his PhD scholar Deepak S Gavali from the Department of Physics.

The paper “Low Basis Weight Polyacrylonitrile/Polyvinylpyrrolidone Blended Nanofiber Membranes for Efficient Particulate Matter Capture” was published in collaboration with Applied NanoPhysics Laboratory, Department of Physics and Nanotechnology, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Kattankulathur. It was featured in the journal ‘ACS Applied Polymer Materials’ having an Impact Factor of 4.09.

In the twenty-first century, air pollution is a major problem facing human and environmental health. Every year, millions of people die, mostly in developing nations, owing to the aggravating level of air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 92 per cent of the people live in places where the air quality level has crossed the WHO limits. Particulate matter (PM) (solid or liquid particles with different aerodynamic diameters), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and others are the relevant air contaminants.

In low-income cities, the effect of PM 2.5 pollution is high due to high urban air pollution. Even at very low concentrations, PM 2.5 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 µm) pollution has health consequences. Air filtration is one of the best remedies to tackle such problems and maintain a clean environment for humans. Among the available air filter materials, fiber-based air filters have proven to be the most potentially effective treatment, due to their high porosity, high surface area, lightweight, etc.

This study relies on a careful design that blends PAN and PVP fibers. The resultant nanofiber material is utilized to overcome the low air pressure resistance issue with high filtration efficiency. Large-scale free-standing nanofibers were obtained by a simple peeling-off process. The morphology, chemical interaction between the filter media and PM pollutant; and filtration properties were investigated. Compared to commercial mask, the semi- high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter media, PAN/PVP filter medium showed superior performance in PM 2.5 filtration. Furthermore, the intermolecular interactions between PMs and nanofibers were analyzed by DFT calculations. With constant optimization of synthesis conditions, the synthesized air filters achieved high filtration efficiency for PM removal and showed great potential for practical application.

Abstract of the Research

Particulate matter (PM) in air frequently poses a serious threat to human health. Smaller PM can easily enter into the alveolus and blood vessels with airflow. This work reports the first polyacrylonitrile (PAN)/polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) polymer blend nanofiber filter media for effectively capturing PM. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations are used to investigate the effect of the blending of two polymers on the dipole moment and the electrostatic potential. Based on the DFT calculations of the intermolecular interactions between nanofibers and PM, the PAN/PVP heteromolecular percentage is considered for experimental synthesis, which can provide better performance in the filtration of pollutants. The composite PAN/PVP fiber network was successfully developed and optimized to cope with complex environments during the actual filtration process. The role of the blending ratio of PAN and PVP in wt % was explored on PM 2.5 capture, and the refined ratio overcame the conflict between high filtration efficiency and low air pressure resistance. The air filter medium PAN/PVP (6:2) possesses an extremely high air filtration efficiency of 92% under a very low pressure drop of 18 Pa for a 0.5 g m–2 basis weight. Both polar and nonpolar functional groups in blend nanofibers promoted significantly the electrostatic attraction and improved the filtration efficiency under static and dynamic airflow. The PAN/PVP nanofiber membranes maintain outstanding air filtration under different temperature and humidity conditions. This study will shed light on the fabrication of high-efficiency low-basis weight nanofiber filter media as an end product.

green urea synthesis

Prof Ranjit Thapa and his PhD scholar, Mr Samadhan Kapse from the Department of Physics have reported their euphoric achievement of discovering an economically viable electrocatalyst for effective green urea synthesis. The paper “Selective Electrocatalytic Co-reduction of N2 and CO2 on Copper Phthalocyanine for Green Urea Production” has been published in the highly prestigious Nature indexed journal, ‘Advanced Functional Materials’, having an Impact Factor of 18.81. It was published in collaboration with Jit Mukherjee, and Uttam Kumar Ghorai, from the Department of Industrial Chemistry & Applied Chemistry, Swami Vivekananda Research Centre.

With global annual production of 100 million tons, urea is one of the important nitrogen sources for the fertilizer industry. Industrial urea is synthesized by the following two consecutive steps. First, the reaction of nitrogen and hydrogen (N2 + H2 → NH3) by the Haber-Bosch process at high temperature and pressure (350–550°C, 150–350 bar); followed by the reaction of NH3 and CO2 [NH3 + CO2 → CO(NH2)2] under mild reaction conditions (170–200°C and 200–250 bar). The sequential reactions are carried out for several cycles to increase the conversion efficiency. For the first step, fixation of N2 is an energy as well as a capital intensive process due to difficulty in cleaving the N≡N bond. Extensive research works have been reported on electrochemical N2 fixation to NH3 in water medium under ambient conditions. In this electrochemical method, isolation of NH3 gas with high purity from electrolyte solution is troublesome. In the second step, CO2 fixation on the substrate and its separation is one of the major challenging tasks for the further reaction with NH3 to end up in urea formation. Overall, the two-step process for large scale production of urea consumes high energy and produces greenhouse gases for the environment.

The research team reported copper-phthalocyanine nanotubes (CuPc NTs) having multiple active sites as an efficient electrocatalyst which exhibits a tremendous yield of urea with good durability and long-term stability. DFT calculation predicts that Pyridinic–N1 in CuPc is responsible for N2 reduction and the metal centre plays an important role for CO2 reduction. This study not only provides us with the co-reduction of N2 and CO2 gases using cost-effective CuPc NTs catalyst but also opens a new pathway to the rational design of other transitional metal-based electrocatalysts having multiple active sites for N2 and CO2 gas fixation applications.

This electrochemical method of urea synthesis by the co-reduction of N2 and CO2 [N2 + CO2 + 6H+ + 6e– → CO(NH2)2 + H2O] using an efficient electrocatalyst in a water medium under ambient conditions would be an alternative way in the upcoming days. All the strategies using alloys and heterostructure for urea synthesis forming C–N bond by the co–reduction of N2 and CO2 have not reached the benchmark in terms of urea yield rate and FE for practical applications. To achieve a high urea yield and FE, various factors are to be considered in this work.

Abstract of the Research

Green synthesis of urea under ambient conditions by electrochemical co-reduction of N2 and CO2 gases using effective electrocatalyst essentially pushes the conventional two steps (N2 + H2 = NH3 & NH3 + CO2 = CO (NH2)2) industrial process at high temperature and high pressure, to the brink. The single-step electrochemical green urea synthesis process has hit a roadblock due to the lack of an efficient and economically viable electrocatalyst with multiple active sites for dual reduction of N2 and CO2 gas molecules to urea. Herein, the research reports copper-phthalocyanine nanotubes (CuPc NTs) having multiple active sites (such as metal centre, Pyrrolic-N3, Pyrrolic-N2, and Pyridinic-N1) as an efficient electrocatalyst which exhibits urea yield of 143.47 µg h-1 mg-1cat and FE of 12.99% at –0.6 V vs RHE by co-reduction of N2 and CO2. Theoretical calculation suggests that Pyridinic-N1 and Cu centres are responsible to form C–N bonds for urea by co-reduction of N2 to NN* and CO2 to *CO respectively. This study provides new mechanistic insight into the successful electro-reduction of dual gases (N2 and CO2) in a single molecule as well as the rational design of an efficient noble metal-free electrocatalyst for the synthesis of green urea.

guest associate editorThe Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering is Proud to inform you that Dr Tousif Khan N, Assistant Professor, and Faculty Coordinator, has been appointed as a Guest Associate Editor in Frontiers in Control Engineering, a peer-reviewed journal for the special issue on “Recent Advancements in Performance and Safety-Driven Robust Adaptive Control.

This Research Topic is intended to give an insight into the latest development regarding the control design and analysis for the nonlinear systems under multiple uncertainties, matched and unmatched disturbances, measurement noises, actuator/sensor faults, and non-smooth nonlinearities. To render a promising control performance under resource-constrained communication networks, state constraints, control constraints, and other related issues are additional design objectives and the focus of this Research Topic.

In conclusion, developing an effective onboard implementable control approach for dynamical systems where safety, performance, uncertainty, and optimality are dealt with concurrently is the main objective of this special issue of the research journal Frontiers in Control Engineering.

B S Murty

SRM University-AP organised an interactive session with Prof B S Murty, Director, IIT Hyderabad, on May 7, 2022, to enhance the research collaborations and capabilities of the institution. Honourable Vice-Chancellor, Prof V S Rao; Pro Vice-Chancellor, Prof D Narayana Rao, all the faculty members, and research scholars took part in the conference.

The meeting deliberated on the need to develop platforms for effective research collaborations across multiple disciplines to maintain successful research careers. It accentuated on the necessity of bringing together inter-disciplinary resources, culture, talent, and scientific knowledge to enhance the depth and breadth of research capabilities. Building intensive research networks and making relevant contributions towards the inclusive development of the society were the major focus points of the discussion.

Prof V S Rao welcomed the gathering and introduced the guest of the day, Prof B S Murty. He reminisced over the long association with Prof Murty, the much renowned Indian metallurgist who has been recognised with the highest science award in the country.

Prof B S Murty put forward the need for bringing multidisciplinarity into the engineering course framework. According to him, the cross-pollination of ideas across the disciplines of technology, medicine, and environmental management is the ideal way to encourage inclusive development in society. He mentioned a few such pioneering programmes such as M.Tech in Medical Device Innovation and E-Waste Management, B.Tech in Computational Engineering and Microelectronics introduced in IIT Hyderabad. He concluded the session by emphasising the vitality of accelerating research across the healthcare sector as well as the need for orienting research in tune with the industrial demands.

Prof D Narayana Rao gave a brief overview of the research culture nurtured in the university. He presented the list of research publications, patent publications and various other accomplishments of the university’s faculty and students. He also gave a brief introduction to the various centres of excellence established at the university. By giving an outlay of the initiatives such as research collaborations with AIIMS Mangalagiri, SVMC Tirupati, and multiple other programmes like the University Distinguished Lecture Series, he shed light on the steps taken by the institution to promote research and development activities across the region. Prof Narayana Rao solicited collaboration with IIT Hyderabad, particularly in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), additive manufacturing of bio-implants, and battery electrodes for Li-ion batteries.

The SRM University-AP team met Dr. Tata Narasinga Rao, Director, International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI, Hyderabad) on 7 April 2022, Thursday. ARCI is an internationally acknowledged autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. Ten professors, led by SRM University Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. D Narayana Rao, went to Hyderabad to meet the ARCI Director. Projects related to key advanced materials in the field of scientific research were discussed during the meeting. Discussions were held on research projects related to additive (3D) manufacturing, solar energy materials, automotive energy and nanomaterials. The SRM AP Professors; Prof. D Narayana Rao, Prof. G S Vinod Kumar and Prof. Ranjit Thapa explained the key points of the research to the ARCI Director. During the event, an understanding was reached on issues such as research partnership between the two organisations and the design of research facilities. Director Dr. Tata Narasinga Rao assured that ARCI would extend full cooperation in areas such as research assistance in the selected fields and provide other facilities. Prof. Narayana Rao affirmed that ARCI has agreed to provide necessary funds for the development of solid electrolytes used to manufacture Lithium Ion batteries.

paper publicationMindfulness, leadership, and performing arts have deep interconnections that, if approached theoretically, can give productive outcomes to implement in workplaces and potential employees. The School of Entrepreneurship and Management Studies is delighted to inform you that the paper titled ‘Exploring mindfulness and leadership development: Lessons learned using grounded theory through the study of the performing arts’ by Dr Vimal Babu, Associate Professor, got published in the journal FIIB Business Review published by SAGE publication.

Abstract of the research

The research looks at mindfulness mechanisms and leadership characteristics as they are expressed in performing art forms. This qualitative study examines major categories to create a theoretical framework for mindful leadership development using performing arts. The present study employs the research paradigm of interpretivism to investigate respondents’ experiences and unique phenomena. The Grounded theory (GT) methodology helps explore grounded data and the development of theories. The abstract core category ‘Immense Concentration and Self-Control’ captures the abstract and inclusive meaning as understood by the sample respondents. The qualitative coding analysis aided in the investigation of the data-driven abstract phenomena. According to the findings of this study, all performing artists require a higher level of attention and self-control to demonstrate fascinating performances like Koodiyattam. A higher level of attention and self-control can be ensured based on increased mindfulness, identified leadership attributes, motivation components, values and beliefs, and personality dispositions of the performing artists. In-depth theoretical reflections on the relationships between the relevant categories are presented. The relationships between the five major categories of mindfulness processes, leadership abilities, motivation components, values and beliefs, and personality dispositions are very significant.

Explanation of the research

In simple terms, the present research explores the dynamics of mindfulness, leadership, and other potential variables enabling mindful leadership through performing arts, helping the practicing managers learn the innovative approaches to inculcate mindful leadership in employees in the workplace. To attain the research purpose, researchers studied the Koodiyattam performing arts as an instrument of mindfulness and leadership based on in-depth interviews of Koodiyattam performing artists. Since the present work explores deeper meanings and experiences to unearth unique and insightful phenomena, the Grounded Theory was appropriately employed as a methodology.

Practical implementation of the research

Managers and executives can derive valuable insights based on the present study. They would be able to understand the interconnections of mindfulness, leadership, and performing arts. It would offer them a better grounding to argue and introduce arts-based initiatives at their workplaces to enhance mindful leadership amongst potential employees aiming for well-being and career development in the organization. Several organizations have been experimenting with arts and its impact on business. However, the studies are in the nascent stage. Hence, more like-minded researchers need to join hands for diverse, global, and intercultural studies, focusing on different variables, including arts. The findings of the present research exhibit firm conviction in enlightening the industry practitioners to consider performing arts based mindful leadership training to enhance mindfulness and leadership attributes of the employees, in turn, making them productive and engaged workforce in the long run.

For this research, Dr Vimal babu has collaborated with Dr Amresh Kumar, IIM, Bodh Gaya, India, and Vipin Kumar, PMP, BT India, Gurgaon, India. His future research plans are to work in strategic leadership, negotiation, and conflict management using innovative qualitative research methods. Entrepreneurship education and circular entrepreneurship are also an area of much interest.

Dr Divya Chaturvedi, Assistant Professor, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, has come up with an exciting proposal for enhanced connectivity and high-speed data transmission across the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices. Her research paper titled “Design of Antenna-Multiplexer for Seamless On-Body Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) Connectivity” has been published in the journal ‘IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II: Express Briefs’, having an impact factor of 3.71. It was published in collaboration with Dr Arvind Kumar from Vellore Institute of Technology and Dr Imaculate Rosaline from Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore.

The research looks into the design and development of a multi-band self-triplexing antenna for Medical Things (IoMT) applications. The antenna is designed to operate at 5.2, 5.5 and 5.8 GHz and self-isolation is achieved below -23.9 dB. It also offers seamless communication links to other devices operating at the same frequencies. The designed antenna is cost-effective and compact in size, that can easily fit into any implantable medical device. To avoid the harmful effect of radiation, the SAR value should be <1.6 W/kg. The SAR for this antenna is achieved at 0.362 W/kg in a very simple profile. Due to its compact size, the antenna can be easily mounted in a wireless portable device. The self- triplexing property of the device also enables full-duplex communication between different devices in a single antenna. This design suggestively simplifies the density of the RF front-end subsystem and leads to a simple and efficient communication system.

Abstract of the Research

Here, a compact design of antenna-multiplexer is engineered specifically to meet the stringent requirement imposed by intricate subsystems operating at 5.2, 5.5, and 5.8 GHz frequency bands for Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) applications. The proposed design includes a hexagonal-shaped substrate integrated waveguide (HSIW) cavity, tripole-shaped radiating slot, tuning vias, and three inset microstrip feedlines. A tripole-shaped slot is imprinted on the top of the SIW. This slot subdivides the cavity into trio-radiating segments and each segment offers a single frequency band. Further, the frequency bands are tuned at 5.2/5.5/5.8 GHz. The design maintains mutual port isolation better than 23.9 dB. Compared with the conventional tri-frequency antennas, the proposed design is highly compact and doesn’t need any additional circuitry to improve the port isolations. The measured results confirm the expected performance of the design. Furthermore, the proposed antenna is optimized within an implantable medical device (IMD) and simulated inside a realistic Human Head model at a depth of 3 mm and the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value is estimated. The SAR values are well below 0.362 W/Kg at the functioning bands due to the unidirectional radiation pattern from the antenna.

Her future research plan includes designing and developing a cost-effective bra-like prototype of Antenna-Array Sensors for breast cancer detection.

antenna multiplexerantenna multiplexer