7th September 2019: Visiting dignitary, Dr. T. Narayana Rao, Sr. Scientist at NARL (National Atmospheric Research Laboratory at Gadanki, Department of Space described the research facilities at the lab and how academia and SRM AP faculty can share these resources to advance their research projects.
According to Dr. Rao, NARL is studying the erroneous GPS signals often caused by atmospheric changes, “NARL scientists are working on studying the atmospheric conditions by deciphering these flawed GPS signals. This is a necessary step as the accuracy of the readings and interpretation is crucial to assess atmospheric pressure, humidity, weather conditions while sending signals to ISRO launch pads.”
With regard to the specific research facilities at NARL, Dr. Rao spoke of the world’s second-largest phased array radar, the sophisticated radio, optical and acoustic instruments. These resources at NARL as well as access to the high-performance computing system of 1.5 Petaflop provides opportunities for academicians, scientists, research scholars and students in different disciplines including physics, chemistry, electronics, computer science and environmental science. Prof. Ranjit Thapa, Department of Physics says, “High-performance computing system deployed by computational researchers can solve critical research problems such as ‘self-healing materials’, ‘catalyst for CO2 and N2 reduction’, and ‘high energy density organic materials’.”
Dr. Rao further spoke of possible faculty participation in combined research studies on the surface and upper atmosphere using advanced MST radar and Lidars. Prof. D. Narayana Rao, Pro-Vice Chancellor highlighted that the central facility of NARL, access to advanced resources and equipment, and opportunity to submit projects in the globally recognized platform validates the importance of carrying out collaborative research with NARL.
Speaking on the subject of women’s empowerment and gender biases in all walks of life, Member of Parliament, Meenakshi Lekhi made it a point to explain how the notion applies not only to those who have succeeded in specialised careers like space research.
“Empowerment cannot be viewed from the narrow angle of haves and have nots. Women in power can also suffer from patriarchy. Empowerment means not having to depend on others, it is not linked to how one dresses or what one does for a living. It is about mental equality, knowing where you belong, how you express yourself, being self-assured, not letting external factors impede one’s growth and freedom.”
On the subject of government programs that empower women directly (as individuals and responsible for their families), Ms. Lekhi drew the distinction between programs like ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) and current programs like Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojna, Mudra Ayojana, and Awas Yojana where subsidies and financial assistance goes directly in the hands of women. “These programs demonstrate our trust in the capabilities of women to take care of themselves and their families. It is about helping the most vulnerable, providing help where it has not reached before.”
Ms. Lekhi is a Supreme Court of India lawyer. In July 2016, she was appointed as chairperson of the Committee on Privileges of the Lok Sabha in Parliament. She was awarded the “Best Debut Women Parliamentarian” award by Lokmat in 2017. She has led the debate on a wide variety of matters such as bails, trials, appeals, criminal writs, the Prevention of Corruption Act/Customs Act/FERA prosecutions, domestic violence and Family Law dispute. Lekhi has been a part of the Drafting Committees for Bills like “Women’s Reservation Bill” and “Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill”. She also played an active role in the drafting of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 which provided for amending the existing laws related to sexual violence. She has been in the National Commission for Women’s (NCW) special Committee, and Chairperson of Special Task Force on Women Empowerment Association.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests the temperature rise should be limited to 1.5°C by the end of this century for the world to survive, “says Dr. Karthik Rajendran, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science. “For this, we need to reduce the emission by almost 50% of 2010 levels.” He further points out that while we may produce electric cars instead of petrol cars, electricity from solar and wind instead of coal, natural gas biologically as biogas instead of shale gas one question is at the center of these technologies – cost.
Dr. Rajendran’s quest to understand the factors influencing commercial viability of bioenergy systems began in Chennai during his bachelors’ thesis on hydrogen production leading subsequently to numerous lab simulations to understand the bottlenecks of commercialization.
On techno-economic analysis as an early indicator of commercial viability
Techno-economic analysis is an examination of various specifications of the technology at its inception stage when it is merely an experiment in a conical flask. “We analyze components on basis of all aspects of technology, economic feasibility, environmental sustainability, market realization and social integration. We can identify bottlenecks early on that hasten the technology out of the laboratory towards commercialization. This enables us to more accurately predict the fate of bioenergy/bio-based product developed out of laboratory.”
The role of institutional and government support
“In my Masters studies at UB Sweden I realized not all technologies being developed in labs are successful and that economics is not the only component that hinders commercialization. We need good institutional and governmental policy, including technical support, to advance such clean energy systems. This is when I started working on integrating technology, economics, and government policy. I compared different European technologies including biogas, electric cars, solar, and wind to understand the role of state/government subsidies towards green technology development. What I found was that electric car technologies for example do little to prevent C02 emissions, yet they receive more incentives from the government compared with other renewable energy systems. It’s about the source of electricity. Be it coal or wind plant if it’s not a green electricity source it is not a green vehicle.”
The science of energy waste conversion
Dr. Karthik Rajendran’s initial research on bioenergy production from waste looked specifically at hydrogen from algae. He currently focuses on bioenergy with carbon capture and utilization with the cost factor being the main parameter. Dr. Rajendran explains how this works. “For example, due to long term storage issues excess solar or wind energy spills over and is wasted. This excess electricity is converted to hydrogen through electrolysis. Then the hydrogen can be combined with CO2 from a bioenergy system to produce methane. This is known as Sabatier reaction. In Europe this research is happening with an aim to convert existing gas grids to a green gas grid by 2050.”
Several of Dr. Rajendran’s published papers examine electro fuels, circular bio economy and techno-economic analysis.
Organises a Blood donation camp to honour Founder’s vision to serve the community
Amaravati, August 24th 2019: SRM University, AP – Amaravati celebrated Founder’s Day by organizing a blood donation camp. More than 120 college students and faculty have donated blood in the camp of which several were first time donors.
On this occasion, Prof. D. Narayana Rao, Pro Vice Chancellor, SRM University, AP-Amaravati presided over the program and shared the Founder and Chancellor, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Dr. T.R. Paarivendhar’s vision and generous contributions to the society through various social services activities. “21 educational institutions have been established by SRM management under the leadership of Dr. Paarivendhar and till date around 1.10 lakhs students have passed out from different educational streams. Our Founder’s vision is to provide education to all and has therefore provided scholarships to the tune of Rs. 35 crore till date to the underprivileged sections of the society. The SRM institutions have more than 7,000 employees and 70,000 students currently.” shared Prof. Rao.
The University’s NSS division organised a blood donation camp together with the international Red Cross society. This was in line with the Founder’s vision to serve the community.
“SRM Management is spending generously for the welfare of the underprivileged people.”, commented, D. Gunasekaran, Registrar, SRM University, AP – Amaravati. The Registrar also motivated and thanked the students by emphasising that blood donation is a big contribution towards the welfare of the society.
Dr. Lakshmi Rajyam, University Medical Officer, SRM University AP-Amaravati encouraged the students and staff to donate blood and explained, “A healthy body is capable of regenerating the blood donated in a few weeks’ time. India needs about 5 crore units of blood annually but has only 2.5 crore units available. This deficit can only be bridged if everyone comes forward to donate.”
Present for this celebration were – ProVC, Registrar, Deputy Registrar, University Medical Officer – Dr. Lakshmi Rajyam and Red Cross Guntur District incharge, Mr. Narasimha Rao along with faculty and students.
At this occasion, 20 NSS students were awarded certificates for their remarkable contributions to the community. The University got together and cut a cake to mark Founder’s Day.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZHih6PGfI-0