Air quality is becoming a big health concern in most cities in India. 129 Cities have been declared as non-attainment status, and each state has been asked to submit short and long term action plans including carrying capacities for each airshed.
IIT Bombay has been engaged in air quality and aerosols related research at the Departments of Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE), and Chemical Engineering (ChE) during the last three decades. Collaborative work with other IIT’s, CSIR-NEERI, Pollution Control Boards and industry have been at the core of the research efforts in the Department. IIT Bombay has been a founding partner in the McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environment Partnership (MAGEEP) network of 29 Universities set up by Washington University in St. Louis (WUStL), USA.
On December 16, 2019, Faculty from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) launched the Aerosol and Air Quality Research Facility at IIT Bombay. This partnership is the latest in a long history of collaboration between the universities. The new research facility will also bring in high-tech instrumentation for fundamental research in aerosol science and engineering, as well as new equipment for on-the-ground air quality monitoring and characterization.
Professor Pratim Biswas, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Professor in the McKelvey School of Engineering, WUStL and also a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) said : “This will provide an opportunity for students to engage in cutting-edge research that is very relevant, guided by world leading faculty members from the two institutions. The work will be relevant to both India and the US.”
“The research facility offers great potential to rapidly advance understanding of air quality in India, which is of high importance given the elevated concentrations of fine particulate matter that have been observed in the region,” said Randall Martin, Professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering at the McKelvey School and principal investigator for SPARTAN.
Faculty at IIT Bombay from the ESE and ChE departments have proposed several research projects at the facility. In the present context of air quality in India, what needs to be addressed is known. However, after this immediate concern for attainment is handled, one would need to go to the next level and set up systems and structures for sustaining the air quality. The new facility would provide a platform for such research, and training and development for capacity building across India in partnership with other academic and research institutions.
Washington University Chancellor Professor Andrew Martin, and Professor Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT Bombay, have both made generous contributions to support the program. In October 2019, they signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize the collaboration for a joint MS Programme for BTech Students at IIT Bombay. After the first five years, industry, government and other funding sources will help sustain and grow the program.