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Spearheading research in key areas

B.S. WARRIER

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has many achievement in the fields of science and engineering, thanks to a number of laboratory facilities under the umbrella of the council



Innovative: CSIR promotes the engineering mindset in students. A girl uses a pedal-operated washing machine

Though the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has numerous achievements in diverse fields of science, it often highlights certain areas, some of which are indicated below.

Aerospace

CSIR has many successes in the field of aerospace. It has been at the forefront in pushing the country's aerospace programme to new heights with path-breaking research at the National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore. NAL has spearheaded the effort to design and develop small and medium-sized aircraft for the civil sector. Other CSIR laboratories such as Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO), National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC), have also made significant contributions.

Affordable healthcare

CSIR has set healthy benchmarks in making healthcare affordable for the common man. It has achieved several landmarks in drugs and pharmaceuticals.

There are discoveries in the fields of biological science, cancer control, genetic diversity, and therapeutic strategies. Contributions in affordable life-saving drug development including anti-malarial drugs, oral insulin, hepatitis B vaccine and anti-HIV cocktail are significant.

Sustainable energy

CSIR aims at utilising resources judiciously and working toward sustaining energy. It has taken several initiatives to optimise energy in a manner which is ecologically sound. Depleting reserves of crude oil leads to the quest for cleaner and alternative fuels. Adoption of Euro III and Euro IV equivalent emission norms and recycling of steel industry waste are some of the notable steps.

Chemical sciences

There are several landmarks in the field of chemical sciences and technology, such as studies in supramolecular chemistry, carbon microtubes developed using pyrolysis, development of speciality polymer for use in petroleum products, industrial metal finishing, and efficient waste water treatment.

The Reverse Osmosis Plant set up by CSIR generates million of litres of RO water per day, ensuring a source of safe drinking water to thousands of people. The council has developed reverse osmosis (RO) membranes based on the state-of-the-art thin film composite (TFC) membrane technology for desalination of brackish water.

Smart materials

Significant achievements in the areas of developing smart and functional materials span across the development of the biometric synthesis of inorganic nano-particles using microgravity, development of useful reinforced composites, and briquetting techniques for economical use of steel plant waste.

Engineering structure / design and electronics

The council spearheads research in engineering structure and design. The development of mechanised casting of reinforced concrete cored units for roof/ floor in the most cost-effective manner at the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, is a case in point.

What is mentioned above is only a list of some of the areas focused. CSIR has schemes for providing a better life to our millions, bringing solutions in the area of health, agriculture and energy. Innovations cover a varied range of technologies such as mechanised agriculture, low-cost housing, new cultivation techniques, water purification techniques and use of ceramic products.

AcSIR

The Academy of Scientific & Innovative Research (AcSIR) is an initiative that focuses on research and training in areas not ordinarily covered by the existing universities in India. There is an overlap of physical, chemical and biological sciences in nature and therefore there is a need to study the interfaces and possible synergies among the laws of physics, chemistry and life sciences, in order to make path-breaking contributions in science and engineering. AcSIR will focus on multidisciplinary research.

The Academy, an ‘institution of national importance', will operate on the hub-and-spokes model with campuses in the CSIR laboratories spread across the country.

The goals of AcSIR include efforts to increase the science component in engineering, promote engineering mindset in life sciences, and mimic life science in machines, as in bio-inspired devices.

It is believed that the future leadership in the area of science and engineering will much depend on its strength in integrated and interdisciplinary areas. There is shortage of institutions that offer Ph.D. and other advanced courses in such areas. AcSIR will fill the gap to a large extent.

The five clusters that offer an array of courses are engineering science, physical science, information science, life science and chemical science.

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