Faculty Name: Prof. Amit Arora
Topic 1: Scaling up evaluation and techno-economic analysis of fruit processing waste biorefinery
India is the one of the largest producers of fruits & vegetables in the world with an annual production of around 250 million tonnes. Quantum of waste coming from agro processing industries is quite significant. The by-products from these industries generally have high moisture content and are thus prone to microbial spoilage. The high moisture content of the wastes also leads to increased drying and storage costs. Thus, waste is typically used as a feed in order to minimize the economic impact of its treatment and stabilization and very few large-scale industries generate biogas from organic waste. India is one of the largest producers of fruits in the world. Production and productivity of this fruit has increased quite significantly in last few years. This presents a unique opportunity for the production of biofuels, biobased chemicals and recovery of valuable components materials from pomegranate peels and seeds wasted every year. We have developed a lab scale biorefinery system which needs to be evaluated at a pilot scale. This project will focus on design and development of a pilot scale biorefinery based on mango and pomegranate processing waste.
Topic 2: Development of a multi-feedstock biorefinery: Techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment
This project will focus on developing broadly applicable biorefinery technologies for discarded and/or by-products of fruit and vegetable production and processing. Seasonal supply variability of different fruits and vegetables requires that common technologies can be applied to multiple feedstock options to isolate common chemical components. Hence a biorefinery can operate all year around where different feedstocks are available. Development of an integrated biorefinery approach will provide economic benefits to the farmers, create job opportunities and more sustainable utilization of the agricultural produce (eg mango, pomegranates, lupin crop residues, bananas, pineapple). Important issue is to appreciate that a balance needs to be established between maintaining soil health (ie returning some organic matter to the soil) and optimizing the use of other parts of the plant for recovery of pectin, antioxidants, vitamins, fibre and other valuable components. This project will also include a Life Cycle Analysis of the biorefinery approach to understand sustainability of developed processes.
Topic 3: Prevailing lifestyle diseases in rural and urban India: Role of nutrition transition
Lifestyle has long been associated with the development of many chronic diseases. WHO has recognized diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, cancer and chronic lung disease/COPD as major non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These major NCDs share common lifestyle related risk factors. This project will focus on understanding the epidemiology of one of the NCDs in the country, and find region specific correlates with respect to prevalent dietary patterns.
Faculty Name: Prof Anand B. Rao
Topic 1: Future of Microgrids in India
It is estimated that more than 250 million people – especially in rural areas – lack an access to reliable electricity supply. Decentralized energy solutions in the form of microgrids have been able to provide the service, and some successful models have emerged. What is the future of such projects in the light of the current policy push to provide “24x7 electricity supply to all” – with the grid extension programs such as DDUGJY and Saubhagya for 100% electrification of rural households? What role could microgrids play in the changing scenario, and what policy framework would be necessary for the same?
Topic 2: Cage fishing in inland water reservoirs: Assessing the technology options and their socio-economic impacts on the local communities
Development of inland fisheries and aquaculture is being promoted under the Neel-Kranti Mission (i.e., Blue Revolution) launched by the Government of India. Cage fishing is an important technical intervention with a potential to enhance livelihood opportunities for local communities, especially those displaced due to creation of water reservoirs due to dam projects. Many fish cage designs are available in different parts of India and have their own merits and problems. The proposed study aims to assess the technology options, and their socio-economic impacts on the local communities. The scope of the work will include field visits, structural design, building and testing a cage, building a decision support system. The candidate should have a background in civil or mechanical engineering or fisheries and should be willing to learn from the other disciplines.
(Co-Guide: Prof. Siddhartha Ghosh, Department of Civil Engineering)
Topic 3: Clean energy Interventions in rural areas: Understanding the barriers, drivers and the dynamics of dissemination
It is a matter of great concern that a large part of rural population in India lacks an access to clean cooking energy and electricity. A variety of clean energy solutions are available today with varied levels of successful deployment. These solutions are desirable on several counts, and hence it is important to understand the barriers and drivers that play a key role in the adoption, penetration and sustainability of these solutions. This study aims at developing an understanding of the dynamics of the introduction, adoption and penetration of clean energy interventions in rural areas, and evaluating policies towards sustainable access to clean energy.
Topic 4: Reverse Migration: Understanding the potential, drivers and barriers
Reverse migration is a unique process which may have huge impact on rural development as well as the urban issues. What are the key factors that can trigger this process? What would be the role of technology and policy? The study would explore the various facets related to this process so as to gain useful insights for planning the development interventions.
Topic 5: Solid Waste Management: To Recover Energy or Materials?
India generated 1, 27,486 tonnes per day of municipal solid waste (MSW) during 2011-12. It is estimated that 89,334 TPD (70%) of this MSW was collected and only 15,881 TPD (12.45%) was processed or treated (CPCB Status Report, 2011-12). This underlines the urgency of the necessity and potential for proper MSW disposal. Various options for waste treatment and disposal include aerobic and anaerobic digestion, vermicomposting, incineration, palletisation, gasification and landfilling. One of the latest conflicts encountered in MSW disposal is that between energy and material recovery. This study aims to understand the various technological, environmental, economic and social factors that affect this choice and will attempt to build a decision support system to help the decision makers at various scales.
Topic 6: Biogas Technology: Can it deliver the promise?
Biogas technology has several advantages from the local, national and global perspectives. For example, clean, renewable energy resource, health benefits from improved indoor air quality, waste management, energy security, carbon mitigation, etc. However, this “win-win” solution to various problems has not delivered enough, in spite of the deployment efforts by various agencies. This study would try to assess this technology in India – especially in rural areas, and look for the potential avenues in future.
Topic 7: Modelling the future demand for bricks in India and its impact on resources, livelihoods and climate
The production and use of fired bricks have been very popular in India and we produce about 250 billion bricks every year. So, the traditional brick sector consumes about 10% of annual coal consumption in India and contributes to equivalent CO2 emissions. However, new construction materials are being introduced and getting adopted in the construction industry. Today there is a growing trend to use “unfired brick alternatives” such as cement blocks and flyash blocks. The project aims to understand these trends and build a model to project the future demand for bricks (fired and unfired) in India, based on a variety of techno-economic, socio-cultural and environmental/regulatory factors and policy scenarios. Such model will be helpful to understand the impact of the future demand – shaped by the various factors and policies – on our natural resources, livelihoods and climate.
Topic 8: Scope for technology intervention in the supply chain of NTFPs and NTFP-based products
The tribal communities in various parts of India collect and process/ supply a variety of NTFPs (non-timber forest produce), such as honey, herbs, medicinal plants, leaves etc. The NTFPs contribute significantly to their livelihood, although they are not involved in most of the value addition steps in the supply chain of the NTFP-based products. The study will try to identify the scope for technology intervention in the supply chain of NTFPs and NTFP-based products, so as to provide better livelihood opportunities to the tribal communities.
Faculty Name: Prof. Pennan Chinnasamy
Topic 1: Climate change Influence on Groundwater Hydrology in India
India is the highest groundwater extractor in the world; however, reasons, mitigations and adaptation plans for this extraction is limited. Given India is an agrarian nation and agriculture is the highest groundwater extractor, it is of utmost importance to understand climate change impacts on ground water status for current and future Indian scenarios.
Topic 2: Site Specific Optimum Number of Check Dams
Check dams have been documented as the saviour in many rural areas in India, however, their scientific significance and impacts on downstream communities are less understood. As a result, some stream reaches are overcrowded with check dams. In this research project, check dam data from 14 check dams will be analysed using complex physical hydrological models, to understand sustainable check dam construction and review different check dam designs on local hydrology.
Topic 3: Crowd Sourcing and Citizen Science for Agricultural Water Management
“Bhujal Jankars”, a successful groundwater co-operative movement in Rajasthan has documented how farmer-based crowd sourcing can be used to successfully train farmers and locals on groundwater management. Research is needed to upscale this activity and build indigenous and cost saving methods across rural regions in India. Therefore, scientific learning from this research will be used to develop future frameworks.
Topic 4: Wetland Protection for Climate Change Mitigation and Tribal Welfare
In recent years, wetland’s role in mitigating adverse climate change impacts is well documented. However, the understanding and learning from Indian context is less understood, leading to further degradation of wetlands in India. In this research, the role of wetlands in protecting sensitive ecosystems, livelihoods and mitigation climate change impacts will be modelled and recommendation plans given to the Government of Tamil Nadu
Topic 5: Remote Sensing tools in Rural Water Management
Many remote sensing tools exist for water management, of which satellites play a vital role. Most research based on satellite images use foreign imagery, while ISRO based images are less utilized. In order to build indigenous technologies, it is needed to use ISRO imagery to understand water management in rural India. In this research, the candidate will be advised by ISRO scientists, who share mutual interests in using ISRO imagery for rural water management
Topic 6: Groundwater depletion scenario for India use of isotopes and modelling
Topic 7: Big Data analysis for rural resource management and development
Topic 8: Climate change impacts on hydrological regimes in rural India
Topic 9: Evaporation and Precipitation changes from cultivated rural regions of India
Topic 10: Assessing Water footprints in rural India
Faculty Name: Prof. Priya Jadhav
Increasing renewable energy supply on the grid presents new challenges of matching supply and demand. Demand response can be an effective tool to enable higher renewable integration. Understanding the real demand on the state grid, as well as the components and drivers such as tariffs that shape it, are key to maximizing the potential of renewable energy in the grid. Currently curtailment, agricultural nighttime supply, and TOD tariffs, shape the load curve. Renewable integration will need us to revisit assumptions that led to existing load shaping mechanisms. At the same time downstream social, infrastructural, and economic effects of these demand shaping mechanisms need to be accounted for in the framework. This topic investigates the development of such a framework with a focus on one or more forms of rural energy usage - residential / agricultural / industrial.
This topic is suitable for candidates of any engineering background, but electrical engineers may be able to explore it in different ways.
Topic 2 : Irrigation access of vulnerable farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha
Irrigation is becoming increasingly important due to climate change, and socio-economic and environmental reasons. Access to a few irrigations can go a long way towards decreasing risk and improving productivity for a majority of farmers in the districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha where rainfed cultivation is widespread. The interaction of crop types, energy infrastructure and supply, irrigation practices, and water infrastructure have been shaped by various policies, and together affect social, economic, and environmental outcomes in this context. The topic entails an investigation of these interactions through field level analysis of important phenomena in the region. .
This topic is suitable for candidates of any engineering background.
Topic 3 : Value of drip and sprinkler irrigation: How does it change water and energy usage in Vidarbha and Marathwada?
Drip and sprinkler irrigation are promoted through institutional channels with the promise of saving water at the field level. However, these savings often occur only in experimental conditions, and in actuality it depends on soil type, crop type, planting configuration, and irrigation frequency and duration etc. For example, the use of drip in close spaced crops such as onion or cotton, may not result in reduction in water application if the watering frequency is the same as in furrow – and such a practice has been observed in the field. Farmers use micro-irrigation for various reasons, sometimes different from water savings, and may have limited information on best practices. State of research/knowledge in the region, the nature of the water resource in Vidarbha and Marathwada, electricity supply quality and tariffs, cropping patterns, extension program or lack thereof, and other factors, affect the efficacy of these water-saving devices. An integrated investigation of these factors in common use cases can aid in developing better policies,
This topic is suitable for candidates of any engineering background.
Faculty Name: Prof. Parmeshwar Udmale
Topic 1: Agriculture, Droughts and Water Scarcity - Transdisciplinary Research
- Monitoring drought and its impacts on agriculture & water supply, and drought mitigation strategies.
- Defining area and severity thresholds for droughts at different administrative levels through stakeholders’ involvement in scientific research.
- Mapping cropping patterns and crop suitability areas for evidence-based policy options to promote sustainable agriculture and water management strategies.
- Assessing determinants of farmers' distress and strategies to tackle the issues using robust statistical analysis.
Topic 2: Water-Energy-Food-Climate Nexus
- Optimizing the water-energy-food nexus in the context of changing climate by using technological and management innovations for improving the livelihood of vulnerable farmers in water-scarce areas of Maharashtra State
Topic 3: Disaster Risk and Resilience in Rural Livelihood Context
- Natural hazards profile of Maharashtra State: A prerequisite for disaster risk and resilience research
- Multi-hazard vulnerability/risk and resilience modelling at the local scale (includes modelling multi-hazards impacts on rural livelihood).
Topic 4: Food Security and Supply Chains – Present and Future
- Modelling virtual water & energy flows through domestic and international crop trade
- Modelling propagation of crop production/supply shocks through trade
- Farm input-output monitoring and analysis: A prerequisite for Minimum Support Price
- Food Security through Public Distribution Systems
Topic 5: SDG – in Rural Areas Context - Reality Check Analysis-based Research
- Measuring and monitoring SDGs in rural area context (village, sub-district, district) and understanding synergies and trade-offs through stakeholders' engagement
- Multi-Hazards, COVID-19, and rural livelihood: Implications for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG 2030).