Union Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan launches Three DST Technology Mission Centres on Solar Energy & Water Treatment at IIT Madras

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Chennai: Union Minister for Science, Technology & Earth Sciences and Environment, Forests & Climate Change Dr. Harsh Vardhan today (25th Jan 2019) launched three Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) Mission Centres on Solar Energy and Water Treatment at Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

These centres, which have been established at a collective investment of Rs 50 Crores, have the mission of providing state-of-art research led innovative technological solutions for prevalent and emerging water and energy challenges facing the country.

Delivering the Presidential Address, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “I urge Scientists and technocrats, to aspire to achieve breakthroughs through cutting edge research which could position India at the frontiers of global innovations. Development and application of advanced tools and techniques by leading Indian institutions for water and energy is of utmost importance to address the critical scientific challenges involved. The current endeavours are few such steps in this direction.”

Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasised the commitment of the Government to harness science and technology for the societal challenges through roping in extra ordinary capabilities of scientists and scientific institution under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. The national missions namely ‘Namami Gange,’ ‘Swachch Bharat,’ ‘Solar Mission’ and ‘Swastha Bharat’ are directed towards sustainable solutions

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also spoke about the dependence of rural and peri-urban India on unprotected surface or groundwater for drinking purpose and need for proper wastewater management to avoid contamination of emerging pollutants like pharmaceuticals and personnel care products into water sources. The need for minimising loss of water in distribution systems, harnessing storm water and greater water use efficiency for water intensive industries like textile and tanneries was also highlighted. He added that these complex and formidable challenges in water sector can be addressed only through concerted and holistic inter-disciplinary research.

The three centres that have been established by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and nucleated at IIT Madras are:

Ø DST -IITM Solar Energy Harnessing Centre.

Ø DST- IITM Centre for Sustainable Treatment, Reuse and Management for Efficient, Affordable & Synergistic Solutions for Water (Water-IC for SUTRAM of EASY WATER).

Ø DST-IITM-KGDS Test bed on Solar Thermal Desalination Solutions in Narippaiyur, Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu

Speaking earlier, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “IIT Madras is honoured that the Hon’ble Minister for Science, Technology, and Earth Sciences, and Environment, Forests and Climate Change Dr. Harsh Vardhan is launching three important DST Technology Mission Centres at its campus today. The Centres are focussed on critical technologies for sustainability – harnessing of solar energy in myriad ways, and scientific recycling and conservation of water. IIT Madras is grateful to the Department of Science and Technology for its generous support to establish these world-class Centres of Excellence and is committed to deliver new knowledge and solutions to address India’s sustainable development goals.”

Dr. Sanjay Bajpai, Head (TMD), Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, gave an introduction to the Mission Initiatives. Prof Ravindra Gettu, Dean (Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research), IIT Madras, also spoke.

The DST – IITM Solar Energy Harnessing Centre, coordinated by Prof. M.S. Ramachandra Rao with a team of 29 faculty members from IITM and 6 collaborating institutions, was set up as a result of successful completion of several competitive grants to the tune of Rs. 16 Crore from the DST to carry out various solar energy research and development projects under the Solar Energy Research Initiative of DST. The impactful, fundamental and applied research carried out over the last four years has resulted in networking of various departments of IIT Madras, academic institutions and solar industry. This has culminated in the establishment of DST- IITM Solar Harnessing Centre with additional Central Government funding support of about Rs. 39 crore.

The network of researchers engaged in the centre comprises of scientists from IIT Madras, IIT-Guwahati, Anna University, and BHEL, which is further expanding. The objective is to create a platform that can be extended readily to strengthen the knowledge eco-system. The consortium will be duly poised to address the energy sustainability requirements in the spirit of ‘Make in India’. More details about the centre can be viewed at https://dsehc.iitm.ac.in which was also launched by the minister.

The DST – IITM Water – IC for SUTRAM of EASY WATER (DST-IITM Water Innovation Centre for Sustainable Treatment, Reuse and Management for Efficient, Affordable and Synergistic Solutions), coordinated by Prof. Ligy Philip, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, has been established to undertake synchronized research and training programs on various issues related to wastewater management, water treatment, sensor development, storm water management and distribution and collection systems. The lead organisation is IIT Madras with eight partnering institutions: CSIR-CLRI Chennai, Anna University, VIT Chennai, PRIST University, Indian Institute of Toxicological Research-Lucknow, IIT Tirupati, Kumaon University, IISER Bhopal.

Building upon generous project support to a plethora of water projects at IIT Madras, this Centre has been supported at a cost of Rs. 9 crore by Department of Science and Technology. More details on the centre can be viewed at https://web.iitm.ac.in/sutramforeasywater

The DST-IITM-KGDS test bed on Solar thermal desalination solutions, coordinated by Prof. T. Sundararajan, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, is being established by IIT Madras and Empereal KGDS as solution providers in Naripaaiyur, Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu with the aim to deliver customized technological solutions to address prevalent water challenges in the arid coastal village located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. The facility is being set up at a cost of Rs. 3 crore to demonstrate the Solar powered Forward Osmosis in this coastal village to benefit approximately a population of 10,000 who face severe drinking water scarcity. This test bed will aid developing and demonstrating the technology to produce high quality drinking water from sea water for the benefit of local people utilizing Forward Osmosis.