I was in awe of Chemistry since my eighth grade and as I went to higher grades, my interest in Chemistry developed over the years. When I saw a chemical industry for the first time during my school’s industrial visit, I was captivated. I completed Chemistry Laboratory practical in highest grade and then in my under-graduation, I opted for Chemical Engineering at MIT AOE, one of the top colleges under University of Pune.
During my undergraduate studies, I was introduced to different courses like Process Modelling and Simulation, Heat Transfer, Mass Transfer, Fluid Dynamics, Mechanical Operation and Transport Phenomena. In order to complement my studies in these courses, I also completed certifications in Matlab and Simulink, AutoCAD, Principles & study of shell and tube heat exchanger and Chemical reactor design. I was the topper of my college which itself underlines my passion in Chemical Engineering. I was the winner of “PRAKALP-2014″ a national level paper presentation and the winner of “SCHEMCON-2015”, an annual National Level Engineering Exhibition for best poster.
In the second year, I had an industrial visit for 1 week in ‘Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited (RCF)’ where I completed my training program on ‘Unit operation and Unit processes with plant visit’. Here, I learned the different unit operations which are an integral part of chemical industries as well as the importance of instrumentation in the process industry. While I was observing the manufacturing as well as research here, my curiosity in Chemical Engineering reached a peak.
My first encounter with the research was in the third year of engineering during a mini-project. I was a Team Leader of a team of 3. We picked the challenging project on ‘Photo-bioreactor’, as it is an upcoming technology and we could study the topic closely. Our task was mainly cut out on the conversion of microalgae to biofuel; a clean technology which is really important in today’s world. During the project, we learned the working of different instruments especially hemocytometer. Here, I was introduced to planning and execution skills required for the research as we had to study available literature and based on previous attempts we also had to design the basic prototype. I could also appreciate the importance of team-skills in research.
During Bachelor’s, I developed an interest in Chemical Process Technology and Membrane Technology. I was fascinated by them as their applications present numerous possibilities to make the Earth a much better place to live. Keeping this close to heart, our team of three, led by myself decided to pursue the project on “Studies of the effect of methanol crossover on Direct Methanol Fuel cell (DMFC)” in the field of membrane technology. DMFC can be used in a wide range from mobile phones to the car engine. It is an eco-friendly and renewable energy source. The main challenge during the project was to control the methanol crossover and optimize the fuel cell. To overcome this hurdle, we prepared a composite membrane of PTFE Nafion which is a very unique membrane because it can stop methanol crossover and increase the DMFC efficiency. The main advantages of this technology are easy refuelling and transportation. We were able to achieve the highest voltage of 1.2V which is among the highest voltage that has been recorded in the world by using DMFC; as a result, our project was highly recognized by the University of Pune and we received a grant from BCUD for further research. The project was also selected for “AVISHKAR-2015” which is an inter-university research competition arranged in Pune.
After completing my graduation, I joined the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune. I have been working as a Project Trainee since <Month-year>. I am working on a project of “production Soda ash from Sodium Sulphate” which is about converting the low cost of Sodium Sulphate into soda ash; a raw material in glass manufacturing industries. The project was highly challenging as Sodium Sulphate is highly stable and hence to convert it to soda ash we developed an innovative technology using sodium dichromate solution as a solvent. Sodium sulfate and calcium carbonate were taken as raw material. The reaction was a double-replacement reaction in which sulfate group of sodium sulfate was replaced by carbonate group. This project was highly successful as we were able to develop a low-cost process. During my stint here, I have worked on X-ray Diffraction (XRD), Scanning electron microscope with EDX and High-pressure reactor.