Clean energy: Sotacarbo and IIT Madras sign 3-year agreement

Established in 1959 in Chennai, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras has a very peculiar heritage, including a long relationship with Germany and a campus developed in a forest. There you find buildings named after rivers and buses named after mountains, and people say: “Only in IIT Madras rivers stand still and mountains move”.

There are no miracles but only projects, expertise and shared ambitions behind the Joint Development Agreement between IIT Madras and Sotacarbo Società Tecnologie Avanzate low Carbon SpA. It aims at fostering collaborative research work between the two institutions in the area of sustainable energy. The agreement and meetings were facilitated by Dr. Bhima Sastri, IIT Madras Alumnus and one of the most eminent speakers at the annual Sotacarbo Summer School.

IT Madras is a residential institute with nearly 550 faculty, 8000 students and 1250 administrative & supporting staff and is a self-contained campus located in a beautiful wooded land of about 250 hectares. It has established itself as a premier centre for teaching, research and industrial consultancy in the country. The Institute has sixteen academic departments and a few advanced research centres in various disciplines of engineering and pure sciences, with nearly 100 laboratories organised in a unique pattern of functioning.

“Energy is an important focus of research in IIT Madras, and we welcome this opportunity to collaborate on the various identified areas on sustainable energy. We are grateful for your time, and confident that our faculty teams will work very well and deliver beyond expectations”, Dr. Ravindra Gettu, Dean (Industrial Consultancy & Sponsored Research), IIT Madras said. His words were echoed by Dr. Gianni Serra, Sotacarbo Director of International Relations, who explained the process behind the agreement: “Dr. Sastri knew Sotacarbo portfolio of activities and suggested IIT Madras could be a partner of interest for us. We did our homework and after that, we had no hesitation in working together as we have so many areas of interest in common. It’s early stages to say but the first signs are all promising.”

Sotacarbo is an Italian publicly owned limited company based in Sardinia, who represents Italy in the IEA CCC (International Energy Agency Clean Coal Centre), working in the area of sustainable energy research, and has been a vibrant contributor for the past several decades. IIT Madras is a self-contained campus located in a beautiful wooded land of about 250 hectares, with nearly 550 faculty, 100 laboratories organised in a unique pattern of functioning, 8000 students and 1250 administrative & supporting staff. IIT Madras has also wide expertise in biomass & coal gasification, combustor design, diagnostics and catalysis. In this department Sotacarbo and the Indian Institute look complementary.

“We have picked IIT Madras because we appreciated their high level of experience in the same fields of research that are strategic for Italy and the Sardinian Region. This research needs a multidisciplinary approach and Sotacarbo and IIT Madras bring to the table different expertise and know-how, which can easily complement themselves”, Dr. Alberto Pettinau, Sotacarbo Scientific Director explained.

IIT Madras already visited Sotacarbo Research Centre in Sardinia last June, when prof. Preeti Aghalayam, presented a talk on underground gasification. “My visit to Sotacarbo was wonderful and it is heart-warming to see that our groups are coming together to work on clean energy”, said Preeti.

The IITM & Sotacarbo teams have identified several research topics for mutual collaboration including Biomass gasification, Catalysis for methanol synthesis, Combustion and oxy-combustion & Carbon capture and sequestration.

Research groups from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering, National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) and National Centre for Catalysis Research (NCCR), IIT Madras interacted with the team from Sotacarbo very fruitfully during their visit to the campus. The agreement is expected to spearhead extensive collaborative research projects that will explore the synergies between the groups.