Dr Harsh Vardhan urges Indian scientists to use renewable, green material “Structural engineers have responsibility to implement PM’s roof for all plan”

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology, has urged scientists and technologists working on developing low cost building and structural material that they have got to bear most of the burden of implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a roof above every head by 2022.

Addressing the staff of the CSIR-Structural Engineering Research Centre (CSIR-SERC), a Laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), last evening, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “More than ever before we need low cost technologies for rapidly filling up the demand-supply deficit. For the first time a Prime Minister has set a deadline for providing every family a roof above its head.”

“Construction technologies, high science products and specialized services developed by SERC would form an essential component for the Prime Minister’s project. I urge the community of scientists here to ensure affordability as well as safety.”

Recalling the many laurels earned by CSIR-SERC over the past 50 years, Dr Harsh Vardhan lauded the 2007 achievement of re-engineering the navigational pan of the Pamban Railway Bridge over the Palk Strait which connects Rameshwaram to mainland India.

“This is a project which ought to be emulated all over the world. The bridge is over a century old but rock solid,” he remarked.

The Minister, who was accompanied by Dr M.O. Garg, Director-General, CSIR, and Dr A.B. Mandal, Director, SERC, visited various laboratories in CSIR-SERC which included Earthquake Engineering, Structural Health Monitoring, Wind Engineering, Structural Concrete Engineering and Technology and Advanced Computational Structural Mechanics. He interacted with the staff and scientists and listen to them as they related the varied challenges they face.

He emphasized that they should not be satisfied with past achievements but constantly try to think out-of-the-box. Their goal should be to pursue new research areas which could meet the country’s needs as well as put her ahead in select technology domains related to the activities of the Institute.

A large number of industrialists connected with infrastructure were present on the occasion. They included Shri D Adinarayana Rao (BGR Energy Systems Ltd), Shri S S Mani (BHEL, Ranipet), Shri Vivek Chari (TAG Corporation), Shri S Ravishankar (Adani Infra India), Shri S Ram Mohan (NLC, Neyveli) and Shri D Srinivasa Rao (Hindustan Shipyard Ltd).

While thanking the industry representatives for supporting CSIR-SERC, he called for greater strengthening of the partnership. “The Prime Minister has given a call for make in India. We need to generate millions of jobs within a couple of years because this country has a youth bulge. Seamless partnership will help develop products and technologies for the benefit of the common man,” he pointed out.

At the same time, the entrepreneurs should focus on using renewable and green materials or Indian origin, including materials based on nano-technology which have minimum carbon foot print as well are low cost and sustainable.

Proud past

CSIR-SERC has, over the past 50 years, accumulated experience in R&D in the field of structural engineering covering a wide spectrum starting with materials for concrete, computational mechanics for analysis design of special structures, structural dynamics, earthquake engineering, wind engineering, bridge engineering, disaster mitigation, non-destructive techniques for condition assessment of concrete structures, durability of concrete structures, light weight structures, composite construction, alternate materials, nano engineered materials, repair and rehabilitation of structures.

CSIR-SERC have successfully completed number of in-house R & D projects and sponsored projects for government, public and private sectors.

Creativity and innovation are the basic important aptitudes of a scientist in promoting the science of engineering and taking further into technology development. With the facilities and expertise available under one roof at CSIR-SERC, which ranks among the best of kind globally, CSIR-SERC, over the years resolved to position itself as an important contributor in the field of structural analysis, design, testing of components of complex structures and provider of innovative solutions to various real world problems faced by the industries.

To cite a few examples, CSIR-SERC’s innovation on development of cold formed deformed bars may be regarded as Black Revolution in construction industry and it received Import Substitution Award. Similarly, CSIR-SERC has made significant economic impact by providing an innovative technical solution while undertaking the re-engineering of navigational span of Pamban Railway Bridge for Broad Gauge Conversion during the year 2007.

The wind engineering division of CSIR-SERC has done the post-survey analysis of HUD-HUD and Phylane cyclones and the mode and cause of failure of different structures have been examined critically. From these studies, inputs were provided for incorporation in the codes of practice for Bureau of Indian standards. Using the state-of-the-art wind tunnel at CSIR-SERC, complex structures such as chimneys, cooling towers, transmission line towers, etc, have been studied for the interference effects.

CSIR-SERC also provided innovative structural design at the request of German Red Cross Society for multi-purpose cyclone shelters, taking into account, special aerodynamic considerations. These cyclone shelters were constructed at 23 sites in Orissa. It may be mentioned that each of these cyclone shelter has saved nearly 2000 persons (totally around 46000) during the Orissa Super Cyclone.

At the request of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), CSIR-SERC has provided innovative design for suitable profile for lowering the pipeline safely, without stopping the gas flow, in stages for the Narmada Canal crossing. SERC also designed and carried out suitable instrumentation using advanced measurement techniques and methodologies for monitoring the process in the in-service gas pipeline in the field. This was the first time that the lowering operation of an in-service gas pipeline was carried out successfully. This has resulted in considerable economy as against stopple and by-pass operation usually recommended by experts abroad for this operation.

The laboratory has expertise in the area of earthquake engineering and handled several industrial projects such as seismic qualification of components, shake table studies on innovative seismic resistant structures and development of passive control devices and base isolators for seismic protection of structures.

In the area of service life extension of concrete and steel structures of nuclear power plants, thermal power plants, road and rail bridges, etc., expertise have been developed for the systematic condition assessment using non-destructive techniques. Based on this methodology, a number of civil structures were investigated and repair measures were formulated for enhancing its service life.

CSIR-SERC has developed innovative and cost-effective technologies in the area low cost housing, accessories required for sanitation, such as, ferrocement service core units (toilet and bath units), durable FRC manhole frames and covers required for sewerage storm water drainage and partially prestressed transmission/lighting poles. These technologies are well proven and have been adopted in many places in India.

The construction Industry is under pressure to increase productivity, reduce cost and enhance the quality levels of constructed facilities. Construction in earthquake prone areas demand light weight, high strength, large ductility or deformability for in-plane and out-of plane loading, avoidance of fragmentation of all elements etc., Prefabricated method of construction is the only solution to encounter the growing demand for housing. CSIR-SERC has taken steps to implement them for meeting the demands of the housing and infrastructural facilities and upgrade them for safe upkeep. In this context, five technologies have been developed at CSIR-SERC namely Prefab light weight large panels using expanded polystyrene, Pre-engineered Cold Formed Steel for Multi-storeyed Buildings, Pre-engineered FABcrete – An Innovative Material for Sandwich Panels, Self-compacting Ferro-Cement Mortar for Thin Panels and Steel-foam Concrete Composite Light Weight Panels.