Volume2 Issue 9/10                                                                                                                          Dec 2003/Jan 2004


The recently concluded CHEMCON at Bhubaneswar has brought three good tidings for us at Mumbai Regional Centre. Our former chairman, Mr.D.P.Misra has been elected to the august office of the President of IIChE. Mumbai Regional Centre also earned the Best Regional Centre award in Category A for the third year in a row. Not to be outdone, the young colts from Thadomal Shahani Engineering College bagged the Best Students Chapter award. Three cheers to all these achievers.

CHEMCON 2003 was efficiently organised in a quiet way. A detailed report can be found inside. Now with that behind us, we have to start working toward the success of CHEMCON 2004 to be hosted by us from 26th to 30th December. The theme for this year’s CHEMCON will be ‘Chemical Engineering in a Global Environment’. An appropriate one considering that 2004 is being widely regarded as India’ ‘Leap Year’.

CHEMCON 2004 promises to be special and unique in many ways, both in form and content. Some flavour of this can be had from the ‘First Circular’ enclosed inside. It will also be a joint meeting between IIChE and AIChE. For all of us in MRC, this means hours, days, weeks and months of hard work. We have a vision beyond 2004. A dream of constructing our own office building in a manner befitting the commercial, financial and chemical capital of India. CHEMCON 2004 is the stepping stone for this. Let us join hands together to realise this dream.


Chairman’s Message

Refining industry is faced with major investment decisions for upgrading quality of transportation fuels so as to meet stringent environmental stipulations. This will require desulphurisation of both gasoline and diesel for reducing the sulphur level by 4-5 times of the current level in the near future. Typical sulphur species in transportation fuels are: Mercaptans, Alkyl Sulphides, Thiophenes, Benzo-thiophenes, etc. Reduction of sulphur below 50 ppm level is more difficult as Desulphurisation reaction slows down owing to the presence of predominantly di-benzothiophenes, the sterically hindered sulphur species.

New generation catalyst like ‘Nebula’ has been found to be having activity level four times that of conventional desulphurisation catalyst. New hydrotreating catalyst formulation like this have helped refiners to use existing hydrotreating equipments for making 50 ppm sulphur diesel. Improvement in catalyst stability has helped in prolonging the life of catalyst.

If US and European trends continue to be the guiding factor, Indian refineries will also have to produce diesel and petrol with about 10 ppm sulphur. Hence, it will be prudent to select new desulphurisation technologies, which can be easily upgraded to produce almost sulphur free products. Catalyst innovations can play a key role in helping refineries to meet the challenges of clean fuel regulations without significant capital investment.

Mukesh Rohatgi

CHEMCON 2003 – An Overview

CHEMCON 2003 was held between 19th to 22nd December at Bhubaneswsar. It was jointly organised by Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Damanjodi Regional Centres and RRL, Bhubaneswar. Mr.Naven Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Orissa and the Guest of Honour inaugurated the congress. Mr.K.C.Pant, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission was the Chief Guest. Tapping the vast mineral resources of Orissa was the central theme of the inaugural speeches. Prof.L.K.Doraiswamy, former Director NCL, was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement award. Among various other awards and presentations, Mumbai Regional centre bagged the Best Regional Centre award in Category A. Kochi and Ankleshwar Centres got the first and second spots in the Category B. Thadomal Shahani Engineering College got the Best Students Chapter trophy.

The H.L.Roy Memorial Lecture was delivered by Dr.B.D.Kulkarni of NCL .He spoke on the future of Chemical Engineering Education. Dr.Bhattacharjee, Director of BARC presented the N.R.Kamath Memorial Lecture on the ‘Thorium Utilisation for Energy Security in India’. The C.K.Murthy Memorial Lecture on ‘Steel and India’ by Mr.Muthuraman, M.D of Tata Steel was read out in his absence.

The theme of the International Symposium was ‘Role of Chemical Engineering in Processing of Minerals and materials’. Most of the CDS Plenary Lectures also focussed on this theme. RRL presented a paper giving an overview on the advances in Comminution, Gravity Separation, Magnetic Separation, Flotation, Solid-Liquid Separation and Waste Management. ‘If your plant is ailing, take its temperature….’ was the title of an interesting lecture that reviewed how simple temperature measurements can be a valuable diagnostic and troubleshooting tool for Flotation Columns and Milling Circuits. Results of flow modelling in Rotary Kilns and Flotation Columns were discussed in three papers. Application of CFD in modelling multiphase flows by invoking the concept of volume averaging was reviewed in another paper. NALCO presented a paper on how they have adapted the various technological improvements in the Bayer Process for producing smelter grade alumina from bauxite. There was also an overview of Alumina Industry in the global scenario.

There was a slew of interesting papers featuring state-of-the art advances in the field of new materials. Chemical – Mechanical Planarisation (CMP), for instance, is a technique used to achieve a very high degree of planarity required for multilevel metallisation in the latest generation silicon chips. CMP uses a complex chemistry involving surface modification and abrasion. The bulk synthesis of materials at nanoscale is important not only to understand the properties of materials at the nanoscale but also to use them in various optical and electronic applications. A novel process for the synthesis of nanosize powders of many oxides involving molecular decomposition was presented. Nanosize powders have numerous applications such as catalysts, semiconductors for energy storage, photovoltaics, ultrafine magnetic materials for information storage, water purification etc. Polymer-layered silicate nanocomposites have several improved properties like increase heat resistance, decreased flammability etc, when compared with virgin polymers or conventional macro and micro composites. A paper from NCL described the various synthesis options for nanocomposites.

Among other interesting plenary lectures was a talk describing how the principles of chemical engineering can be used in synergy with genetic and biochemical experiments to shed light on some of the most fundamental questions of biology. Energy was another topic that figured prominently among the plenary lectures. The challenges before chemical engineers in the face of the burgeoning energy demand were reviewed. Fuel Cells have moved out of the development phase and are emerging as a promising energy source for transportation, heating and power generation. There is considerable interest in Bio-diesel as an alternative to Diesel fuels in the transportation sector. Bio-diesel, which is synthesised by trans-esterification of vegetable oils, also results in lower emissions.

Website of the Month

This month’s website is an attempt by US based Chlorine Chemistry Council to educate the society about Chlorine and its derivatives. Chlorine is used as a building block for innumerable products and there is a collection of articles and white papers on the use of chlorine and chlorine compounds in our everyday lives and the accruing economic benefits. The use of chlorine in water treatment and as a disinfectant is treated exhaustively, and the health and safety issues are addressed in detail.

Send your feedback on this and the Newsletter in general to Of course do keep visiting for the MRC news and for the news from the IIChE Headquarters.

Forthcoming Programmes

Jan 29th 2004 Dr.R.B.Roy Choudhary Memorial Lecture by Jairam Ramesh on ‘White Collar, Blue Collar: India and China in the Contemporary World’
6.00 pm at P.C.Saxena Auditorium, IIT – Bombay, Powai
Feb 14th 2004 Bipin Vora , UOP to speak on GTL, UICT, 5.00 pm.

Keep watching our website for further announcements.