Sustainable Energy and Water

This research thrust is centered on meeting the escalating demands in energy, and clean drinking water for an expanding world population, sustainably through innovation in technology and practice.

This project focuses on developing experimental capabilities to evaluate designs for the cooling of gas turbines. Virginia Tech has unique expertise and cutting-edge capabilities in the field of Gas Turbine Heat Transfer, including unique algorithms and codes and the thermochromic liquid crystal technique providing high fidelity, two-dimensional maps of heat transfer behavior inside complex cooling channels and on turbine surfaces.This technology will be replicated in the newly established gas turbine heat transfer laboratory in Virginia Tech India in Chennai.

The laboratory’s researchers will be engaged in effective modeling of cooling channels and geometries and heat transfer measurements. These detailed heat transfer measurements will provide both qualitative and quantitative assessment for evaluating cooling designs generated by engine companies. The liquid crystal apparatus will include GoPro cameras, liquid crystals, specialized lighting equipment, valves and flow networks and heaters along with post-processing tools including Matlab. These methods are relatively cost effective and will have high impact for industry and potential research sponsors in India. This project will be led by Dr. Jaideep Pandit under the guidance of Prof. Srinath V Ekkad of Virginia Tech.

Cost-Effective, Low-Speed Wind Energy Harvester

The renewable energy research focuses on harvesting energy in new ways from wind, sun, ocean, and mechanical vibrations such as those produced on railroad tracks. The facility houses a state-of-the-art low speed wind tunnel, which researchers can use to develop high-efficiency wind turbines by optimizing their aerodynamic and structural performance. One of the current projects, led by Dr. Myoor Padmanabhan, is centered on designing a cost-effective, low speed wind energy harvester for small households.

Porous Graphene and its Composites for Drinking Water

Guided by Professor Mahajan of Virginia Tech, this project focuses on exploring the large scale and inexpensive deployment of nanoporous graphene and its composites for the desalination and filtration of water. Among the most innovative projects is the use of silkworm cocoons modified by coating of graphene and (or) graphene oxide as filters for dirty air and water. These projects will be carried out in the graphene research laboratory at Virginia Tech India, which will also be equipped with a test facility to measure the permeability and performance characteristics of graphene-based filters. These projects will complement similar research currently underway in Professor Mahajan’s laboratory at Virginia Tech.

Waste to Wealth

In its early stages, this project, as the name implies, aims to address the nexus of food, energy, and water by developing effective and efficient technologies for recovering useful energy from food, beverage, and agricultural wastes/wastewater, achieving the reuse of water for food and agricultural process and for accomplishing resource recovery (e.g., ammonium).