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More scientific developments

More scientific developments

In a remarkable accomplishment, IIT Madras turned a petroleum waste into a useful product. The meticulous process involved the use of platinum nanocatalyst and a two-member team led by G. Sekar from Department of Chemistry of the flagship institution successfully converted petroleum waste-product toluene into benzoic acid. Benzoic acid is in use as a food preservative and medicine for fungal or bacterial infection. The conversion of Toluene into benzoic acid happened through a selective and controlled oxidation in the presence of a catalyst – a green oxidant and water here. The use of water as a solvent in this is with the purpose of making the product environment-safe. This procedure was a marked departure from the conventional process whereby organic reactions are executed using organic solvents; this process is not only expensive but also generates toxic waste. Hence, the use of water to make it pollution-free.

While seemingly a small step in the vast area of scientific development affecting common human lives, what this recent development stands for is the need to support and encourage research at higher levels of education which will, in turn, pave the way for better and improved standard of common living. The credibility of a top-notch institution is earned for a range of reasons: the most basic ones being secure infrastructure, a credible faculty, affordable fees, and a reasonable to better guarantee of employment at the end of the course – all of this coming together without any unreasonable compromises. With numerous medical and engineering colleges mushrooming all over the country, the picture regarding higher education in science only gets more deceptive. Merely ending up at such a college does nothing if the college is not sufficiently equipped both qualitatively and quantitatively. Good faculty and adequate resources are pivotal to rearing a crop of budding science professionals. The importance of quality science education at higher levels cannot be emphasised enough. The need to support and encourage research and enable more pilot projects will not just add to the credibility of the institutions but also encourage the culture of research and constructive experiments. The advancements in this field of applied science will only eventually make life comfortable, easier, and qualitatively better if implemented well.

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