Sir, you have dealt with supercapacitors in some of your papers. What is your opinion, sir, on the role of supercapacitors as a source of portable energy in the foreseeable future?
We generally use batteries in most of the gadgets but the problem with batteries is we can’t abstract or put in a lot of energy in a short period of time.
Capacitors act as a backup to the battery, they save the battery from transients.
Super capacitors are high power devices as they give you a lot of power in short period of time. They are always integrated with batteries to be used in renewable storage devices.
They are cheaper and their number of possible cycles is around 100 to 200 times greater than batteries. We have to use a large number of capacitors to run our devices. So the cost becomes comparable.
2. Sir, your current field of research is on the use of hollow nanostructures for energy applications. How would you describe this topic to be in terms of scope and utility?
The advantages of nanomaterial are that they give you a large active surface area for carrying out various processes.
If you have a nanomaterial in which you can make a whole structure, then your active surface area doubles with the same material and the cost is low due to less amount of material.
We are using it for electromagnetic shielding. We can also use it to water treatment or removal of industrial waste of water. These are nearly 100% higher performance than solid structures.
We expect that the range of nanostructures are going to increase 3-4 times in coming years.
3. Currently you are a co-principal investigator for a project on ion cells and capacitor packs which is under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Transport Bhawan.
Do you think electric cars and non-fossil fuel run vehicles can be a viable option for Indians?
My team is looking after the fabrication of supercapacitor packs which supports the sodium ion battery and then we have to integrate it with vehicles like e- vehicles, e-cycles etc.
It will become viable because India is increasing the battery production. But we can’t be sure if it will be acceptable at a large scale, because these batteries and capacitors have to be charged from the grid, which is produced by the fossil fuels and the requirement of the electricity will increase tremendously. So, the overall pollution which we are trying to reduce may increase rather than coming down.
If we have charging station which supply electricity by clean technologies like solar cells. Then only these technology can be viable.
4. Sir, can you brief us about the solar based mobile charger patent which is currently under submission?
This was a work done along with two students as I was also interested. We made a solar charger using the solar panels procured from Pune.The advantage of this charger was the cost factor could be reduced. The mobile chargers in the market were for 700-800 rupees and our chargers had actual cost of 100-120 rupees.
We didn’t file the patent because the Indian mobile chargers are coming from abroad and they just put the stickers. We were assembling within our campus and we are also funded by STEP. We designed the solar concentrators which was the patent we had filed.
The design of the solar concentrator was such that we could achieve five times the sun intensity with a small modification in the bench design of the concentrator and that is the patent currently under consideration .
5. You have been felicitated by a wide variety of organisations and societies such as the Max Planck Society, CSIR, Indian Science Congress Association. What was your experience being a part of such organisations and getting honoured?
This is a very difficult question to answer because when I am a teacher and I get these kind of awards. There are lot of people behind this, specially students. So I can’t say that it was me getting felicitated. It was the team who got felicitated for the hard work. All of the work is done by the Phd or M. tech students and I was collecting all the data. Everything was done by the team and I am a part of it.
6. Sir, you are also one of the editorial board member for Scientific Reports, and review editor for Colloidal Materials and Interfaces. How difficult is it for you managing all this along with your college routine?
Sometimes, it is difficult because the scientific reports are journals promoted by combustion nature house which may not be required by the student body. But in a scientific community, the standard of nature publishing is on the top. And they want there journal to be high in standards.
We are not allowed to accept or reject papers as per our wish.
Every step is documented and that’s why it takes time, but science is a community of peer reviews. So it is a part of my job and I don’t regret. And it is the career which I have chosen so I am happy to be a part of it.
7. Many members of your research team have received various awards such as the Young Scientist Award and the Best Poster Award. Would you like to share some of your secrets with our readers regarding this success?
We do everything seriously, even if we have to prepare a simple presentation, where we know we are competing with other institutes, we practice our presentations till we are perfect to our level.
We practice time management, stage practice and also interaction with the judges.
We also call external members to evaluate our performance and take opinions from our colleagues and therefore, my students have been doing very well in those competitions.
8. You had been graced with the ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT CONNECT FELLOWSHIP and the DAAD EXCHANGE FELLOWSHIP . How was your experience representing IIT Kharagpur at the global frontiers in foreign classrooms?
The biggest advantage we get is from the ‘IIT’ tag. It gives you lot of stature before you reach somewhere. Along with the stature it also gives you a lot of responsibilities to maintain the dignity of the place.
Talking about my experience, I had to convince many people that we are not only good in our teaching but we are also fighting for the best of the research facilities and doing the best research when compared to anywhere else.
9. What message would you like to give to the readers of Awaaz and people in general of IIT Kharagpur regarding the advent of the concept of sustainability and energy storage? Would you like to give any tips to students interested in this field?
Energy storage technology will be an integral part of the future energy landscapes.
If you are looking for solutions in future, you should in fact start working early.
There are a lot of new technologies coming up. Not only lithium ion batteries, India is moving towards sodium ion. The reason being, lithium is concentrated in few countries and to avoid geopolitical dependence, India is focussing on other ion based batteries. These technologies have not been investigated and it requires a lot of work so students can come up and look forward toward this.