A PhD student from RMIT’s joint research centre in Hyderabad, India, has been awarded a top prize for his work on converting waste to energy.
Manu Agarwal with Dr Megan Clarke, Chief Executive Officer at the CSIRO.
Manu Agarwal is this year’s winner of the Dr Megan Clark Excellence Award, given to the best RMIT postgraduate research student in the field of Australian minerals and resources, science and technology.
Mr Agarwal is the first PhD student to complete 12 months of his study at RMIT’s City campus in Melbourne, as part of the PhD program at the RMIT-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) Joint Research Centre in Hyderabad.
Over the past year, he has been working at the Centre of Advanced Materials and Industrial Chemistry in the School of Applied Sciences.
He is the fifth annual winner of the Dr Megan Clark Excellence Award since it was introduced in 2009 by Professor Suresh Bhargava, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor International in the College of Science, Engineering and Health.
The award honours the Chief Executive Officer of the CSIRO, Australia's national scientific and industrial research organisation, who was recently made a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) for her service to scientific research.
Mr Agarwal, a Chemical Engineer with a Master of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, India, was delighted to win the $500 award, which also gives him the opportunity for a personal meeting with Dr Clark.
Past recipients of the Dr Megan Clarke Excellence Award with Dr Clarke (centre) and Professor Suresh Bhargava (far right).
The award is a recognition of his work in municipal solid waste and pyrolysis – a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen.
Mr Agarwal said rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and population growth have led to severe waste management problems in major cities of developed and developing countries such as India.
"Municipal solid waste does not have a similar catastrophic effect such as global warming or ozone depletion but it does pose a threat to environmental quality and human health," he said.
"Uncontrolled urbanization has left many Indian cities devoid of many infrastructural services such as water supply, sewage and municipal solid waste management.
"Utilising municipal solid waste as a renewable energy source through pyrolysis can address global crisis relating to energy and municipal waste management."
The PhD program at the RMIT-IICT Joint Research Centre in Hyderabad provides students both world experience and a unique opportunity to work under the joint supervision of scientists from India and Australia.
Professor Bhargava said a large part of the PhD work was carried out at the Joint Research Centre in India but students then had the opportunity to spend one year at RMIT before submitting their thesis.
"Mr Agarwal is one of five students who have been working at RMIT and I am confident that more will follow," he said.
Dr M Lakshmi Kantam, Director of RMIT-IICT Joint Research Centre and Director of the IICT Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said the PhD program was designed to produce "real world graduates" through international partnerships and alliances.
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