India-UK team to tackle climate challenge - GulfToday

India-UK team to tackle climate challenge

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Climate Change

Sustainability is an increasingly important parameter for a nation to balance economic growth against the need to mitigate the effects of global warming.

An international multidisciplinary chemistry network providing a training and research environment for future international chemistry leaders in India and United Kingdom has been set up.

Scientists from India and the UK have formed the Innovation and Sustainability Chemistry Consortium (ISCC), which aims to bring together scientists from both countries to solve challenging sustainability problems pertaining to the environment or industries. The consortium aims to start taking up projects from April this year. Led by the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai, the consortium of 14 scientists – seven each from India and UK – has received a seed fund of £100,000 from UK’s department of business energy and industrial safety.

So far leading UK and Indian universities, including Queen Mary, University of London, University of Oxford, and Greenwich University, have joined the consortium, which is delivered by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The seven scientists from India are from institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.

As the ISCC website points out, sustainability is an increasingly important parameter for a nation to balance economic growth against the need to mitigate the effects of global warming. Most scientifically developed nations are therefore seeking to transition their manufacturing and industry to sustainable practices as a basis for curtailing carbon emissions. Development of sustainable technologies as well as the improvement of existing technologies to meet these needs are now being set as important goals by scientific organizations and funding agencies.

The ISCC has been set up to tackle important global sustainability challenges and to disseminate the knowledge gained to wider audiences. The vision is to develop scientific solutions that address key global sustainability challenges by harnessing the talents and innovation from leading UK and Indian scientists using digital technology to enable collaborative research between the two nations.

The ISCC says the network of scientific leaders with their combined talents and expertise are poised to work together on exciting new scientific challenges. “Chemistry is at the heart of solutions to the world’s biggest sustainability challenges. We’re proud to help the chemical science community make the world a better place, by bringing world-class institutions from India and the UK together to collaborate on those solutions,” said Professor Tom Welton, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, in a press release.

The key aims of the consortium are: (i) to develop new technologies using the complementary expertise of leading scientists of both nations to provide sustainable solutions to both academic and industrial challenges and (ii) to encourage and proliferate the teaching of sustainable chemistry bringing about a paradigm shift in the way chemical synthesis is carried out, whilst integrating future novel technologies as they arise.

The ISCC will focus on four flagship areas – carbon reduction and environmental remediation, catalysis and bio-catalysis, future technologies, and sustainable materials and technologies. It aims to facilitate greater interactions between academic and industrial partners and develop innovative programs in research and education including the mentorship and training of early-career scientists.

Development of hybrid nanomaterials capable of harvesting the renewable solar energy as well as capturing and converting CO2 into fuels and commodity chemicals will be a main focus. New green, efficient and economically-relevant technologies developed by the research groups will allow chemists to incorporate new advances into their work at all levels of the chemistry development cycle. Alternative catalytic processes will be studied that offer environmental and economic advantages in the production of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Fundamental or applied science related to nano, micro, meso, and macro-scale aspects of materials for developing sustainable processes will also be researched.

Created to promote sustainable chemical developments by facilitating greater interactions between academic and industrial partners, the ISCC will strive to create a conducive environment for the proliferation of such partnerships and will be involved in the education and training of individuals in academia as well as industry on the topic of sustainability. The consortium intends to undertake many innovative programmes in research and education by making use of futuristic technologies.

In support of their ambitions around sustainability, the ISCC will also seek to develop a new low carbon approach to outreach and education initiatives. The Consortium plans to make use of technologies such virtual reality (VR) and machine learning to “digitally transport” students to the cutting-edge laboratories and universities involved in the consortium, opening up these opportunities to students all over the world.

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