Centre for Green Technology

When the ICT was part of the University of Mumbai, a proposal was submitted by the University of Mumbai to the UGC, under the scheme of University with Potential for Excellence (UPE). The proposal for the above Centre was presented to the UGC on 4th August, 2005, the University had promised to introduce the subjects related to Green Chemistry in the undergraduate curricula of different branches of chemical engineering and chemical technology as well as the new programmes at the PG and Ph D level. The proposal was accepted in totality and the University of Mumbai received a grant of Rs. 30 crores, in which the Centre for Green Technology was to be established with Rs 9.00 crores with specific objectives and milestones. Meanwhile, the ICT was converted into a deemed university and the UGC agreed to have the Centre as a joint ownership of ICT and University of Mumbai, with co-ordination to be done by the ICT.

The idea of this Centre has been in the long tradition of research conducted at the ICT and the world wide recognition given to the faculty there. The direct linkages with the industry of the ICT is recognised by the all leading academics and practitioners in the industry, who have felt a need for the national centre of excellence in Green Technology. Synthetic chemicals are used to make virtually every man-made product and play an important role in the everyday life of people around the world. Such products can protect crops and increase yields, prevent and cure disease, result in longevity, allow faster modes of communication and transport, entertain, provide insulation to reduce energy use and offer countless other benefits that make life better for people. Many of these benefits are subtle and not connected to the chemical industry by general public. As with other large manufacturing industries, the chemical industry (CI) can also have a negative impact on human health and the environment when the production and use of chemicals are not managed responsibly. From the use of non-renewable resources for fuel and feedstocks (e.g. oil and gas), to the release of pollutants from factories during production, to the disposal of final products that contain hazardous waste, each stage of the lifecycle of a product produced by the CI can affect man and the environment.

The material and energy demands of modern society hinge critically on the viability and progress of the chemical and allied industries that are central to many other sectors. The world chemical industries are experiencing massive changes as we enter the 21st century. Commodity chemical manufacture is migrating increasingly towards developing countries, where labour and raw material costs are lower. For both commodity and specialty chemicals there is growing demand worldwide that production ought to have less impact on the environment and that it moves toward long-term sustainability. Various treaties, legislations and programmes are directed at energy efficiency and efforts to reduce waste and develop sustainable production.

The focus on environment and sustainability has popularised terms such as "atom economy", "eco-efficiency", "E factor" and in particular "green chemistry" that define strategies and methods to develop sustainable processes, quantify waste generation, and implement the use of alternate resources. Although chemical engineering programs have been teaching material and energy balance right from the inception of the discipline, the emphasis on resource conservation, waste minimization and hazard reduction was not apparent. During the last two decades, spectacular progress has been made in understanding chemicals as molecules and the structure- activity relationships with reference to their properties which are exploited for specific end uses. As these concepts and their applications – which are termed as "green chemistry, green technology, green engineering"- infiltrate the chemical and allied industry, today's engineering graduates must gain familiarity with and be able to apply them. Further, the paradigm shift from commodities to specialties requires a broader perspective of process chemistry and global aspects of the industry than has traditionally been part of an engineering education.

The dozen principles of green technology are :
  • Pollution Prevention at Source 2. Atom Economy 3. Less Hazardous Chemical Synthesis 4. Designing Safer Chemicals 5. Safer Solvents 6. Design for Energy Efficiency 7. Use of Renewable Feedstocks (Biomass, Biowaste) 8. Reduce Derivatives 9. Catalysis – Chemical and Biological 10. Design for Degradation 11. Real-time Analysis for Pollution Prevention 12. Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention
  • The manufacturing activity of specialty chemicals is conveniently classified into several unit processes such as, hydrogenation, oxidation, nitration, esterification, halogenation, alkylation and acylation, sulphonation etc. All these unit processes will be carefully investigated for a large number of real applications in terms of chemistry, mechanism, alternative routes and solvents, catalysts and kinetics. These are highly polluting processes. At least one of processes is used in a chemical plant and thus the use of principles of green chemistry and technology become very important in making them eco-friendly.

The methodology that would be followed for this part of the project consists of the following steps:
  • In each category a few industrially important processes will be selected for investigation. The reactions will be studied with respect to the mechanism and the various parameters affecting it. On a laboratory scale, new starting materials, reagents, catalysts, solvents, etc., will be tried. Processes involving water as a solvent will be developed.
  • Alternative energy sources: Energy is costlier and scarce in India. Hence, alternate eco friendly energy sources such as solar energy, UV light, ultrasound, microwaves, shall be tried to get certain benefits.
  • Computational work: Theoretical studies based on computational work and molecular modeling for the above.
Multi-step synthesis for manufacture is a characteristic feature of intermediate, drug and fine chemicals. Added to this is the structural complexity. Under process intensification program the main aim is to develop new and more efficient reaction systems to reduce number of steps by way of developing tandem reaction sequence to be carried out in one pot. To develop new catalytic system towards developing for single step modification to merge multiple transformation steps to a single step transformation. This will not only give an advantage of short production cycle, less consumption of chemicals, less utility requirement and above all, overall yields will be higher.

Nano materials are used for making catalysts, composites, newer construction materials, storage devices, electronics, etc. The composites can be prepared from clays and polypropylene, nylon, polyester and styrenics especially, HIPS, SAN and ABS. The bond between clay and matrix is enhanced by chemical/physical modification of clay. The incalation between clay and polymer matrix will be established in this study through physicochemical analysis. Similarly use of nano tubes for controlled permeability can also be established. Green processes can be developed in this area.

The research activity of the Centre will be focused on a number industrial segments relevant to the ICT expertise as well as emerging areas:
  • Green synthesis of bulk chemicals
  • Refinery processes – Novel catalysts and energy efficient process development
  • Synthesis of nanomaterials- catalysts and composites
  • Pharmaceuticals and drug synthesis – chirality
  • Multi-step intermediate synthesis to be converted into cascade engineered synthesis
  • Synthesis of fine and superfine chemicals.
  • Synthesis of biodegradable chemicals
  • Synthesis of safer and benign chemicals having minimum impact or zero impact on environment.
  • Process equipment design and operation to support the above activities.
  • Carbohydrate based feedstock for catalytic processes