The inaugural lecture at the Research Seminar Series of the Division of the Biological and Life Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences was delivered by Professor Thalappil Pradeep, IIT Madras. Professor Pradeep talked about "Clean Water Using Advanced Materials: Science, Incubation and Industry", a topic that is of interest to most people. The talk was held School of Engineering and Applied Science, GICT Building, Central Campus. Professor. T. Pradeep also spent a few days at the University after his lecture and was available for personal interactions.
Access to clean water is one of the most important indicators of development. This water has to be affordable to make a meaningful impact to the society. Professor Pradeep's team has been studying the chemistry of nanomaterials with the objective of developing affordable solutions for clean water. Creation of affordable materials for constant release of silver ions in water is one of the most promising ways to provide microbially safe drinking water for all. Combining the capacity of diverse nanocomposites to scavenge toxic species such as arsenic, lead, and other contaminants along with the above capability can result in affordable, all-inclusive drinking water purifiers that can function without electricity. The critical problem in achieving this is the synthesis of stable materials that can release or adsorb ions continuously in the presence of complex species usually present in drinking water that deposit and cause scaling on nanomaterial surfaces. They have shown that such constant release/adsorbing materials can be synthesized in a simple and effective fashion in water itself without the use of electrical power. The nanocomposite exhibits river sand-like properties, such as higher shear strength in loose and wet forms. These materials have been used to develop an affordable water purifier to deliver clean drinking water at Rs. 130/y per family. The ability to prepare nanostructured compositions at near ambient temperature has wide relevance for adsorption-based water purification. They have implemented such solutions already in arsenic affected areas of India. In the next 12 months, we are expected to provide arsenic free water to 1000,000 people. Translation of this science led to the incubation of a company which has its own manufacturing unit now. It has secured venture funding and a new manufacturing unit is going to come up soon. All of these activities have generated world class science. A healthy mixture of basic science, applications and business in the Indian context is manifested here.
Thalappil Pradeep is an Institute Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India. He is also an Institute Chair Professor and Professor of Chemistry. Prof. Pradeep’s research interests are in molecular and nanoscale materials and he develops instrumentation for such studies. He has authored over 365 scientific papers in journals and is an inventor of over 65 patents or patent applications. He is involved in the development of affordable technologies for drinking water purification and some of his technologies have been commercialized. His pesticide removal technology has been incorporated in about 1.5 million filters and the technology is estimated to have reached about 7.5 million people. Along with his associates, he has incubated two companies and one of them has a production unit. His arsenic removal technology, which has been approved for national implementation, has reached about 400,000 people already and is expected to reach one million people soon. He is a recipient of several awards including the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize, BM Birla Science Prize, National Award for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, India Nanotech Innovation Award and JC Bose National Fellowship. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences (India) and Royal Society of Chemistry. He is the author of the several books in the area of nanoscience and technology.