16 February 2011

Research Centre takes India links to new levels

In the International Year of Chemistry, RMIT University has opened a joint Research Centre with the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology in Hyderabad, India.

RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said the joint IICT-RMIT Research Centre was a shining example of international cooperation and collaboration in chemical research between India and Australia.

"Chemistry is a creative science essential for the sustainability and improvements to our way of life, and chemical research is critical for solving our most vexing global problems including food, water, health and energy," Professor Gardner said.

The Centre will focus on environmental and industrial research and is RMIT's first collaborative research footprint in India.

RMIT is committed to contribute more than $400,000 for the joint Centre and $150,000 which has already been contributed toward the establishment of the facility and students' scholarships.

IICT in Hyderabad is a leading Institute of India, with expertise in several branches of chemistry, especially in organic synthesis, including natural products, medicinal chemistry, catalysis and physical photochemistry.

Researchers at RMIT and IICT are already working together on projects including in relation to nano-engineered materials, methods for the removal of mercury from industrial air effluents and environmentally sustainable industrial process design.

The new joint facility will allow researchers to work on projects including catalysis for green chemistry, advanced materials and renewable energy, processes for water quality monitoring and waste water treatment, control of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and bio-nanotechnology.

Professor Suresh Bhargava, Joint Director of the Research Centre and who leads the RMIT group involved, said the initial collaboration between RMIT and IICT started almost three years ago and had been very successful.

"The two research groups have jointly published some 15 papers and have independently filed innovative patents in frontier areas of R&D," he said.

"Our research will benefit the poorer people in India and will provide cost-effective, indigenous solutions and technologies for water purification and air pollution control.

"For example, one technology is to use nanocomposite clays to make pots that purify dirty groundwater and make it safe to drink.

"Through the excellent scientific quality of the groups involved, this joint venture is expected to produce research publications and innovative patents that will have a valuable impact on global issues," Professor Bhargava said.

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Dr C.B. Lakshmi, IICT; Dr Lakshmi Kantam, IICT, Joint Director of the Research Centre; Stephen Connelly, Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Development and Vice-President, RMIT University; Professor Suresh Bhargava, Joint Director of the Research Centre and Deputy Pro Vice- Chancellor International, College of Science Engineering and Health; Professor Margaret Gardner AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, RMIT; Geoffrey Conaghan, Victorian Commissioner to India; Professor Daine Alcorn, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, RMIT; and Professor Peter Coloe, Pro Vice-Chancellor Science Engineering and Health and Vice-President, RMIT.


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