Dr. Alka Kumari obtained her B.Tech Degree in Chemical Engineering from BIT Sindri, Jharkhand in 2012 with excellent academic performance. She started her carrier as a Trainee Scientist in Chemical Engineering Division at CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad in 2012. During her tenure (2012-2016) as a Trainee scientist, completed her M.Tech (2014) in Process Engineering Sciences from Academy of Scientific and Industrial Research (AcSIR)-IICT, Hyderabad, and worked on the process development activities, followed by completion of her Ph.D. in 2020. Her M.Tech project was awarded the “IIChE-Ambuja Young Researcher Award-2014” by IICHE. Subsequently, she joined CSIR-IICT as Scientist-C in 2016 and presently working in Process Engineering and Technology Transfer (PETT) Department.
Her key research interest involves the Process Development, Scale-up Studies and Design of Commercial Plants, Intensified Separation techniques, Estimation of Thermodynamic and Transport properties, and its Modeling for industrially important streams and thermo-chemical conversion of biomass to value-added products. Dr. Alka strongly considers that the technological advancements in the research lab should see the light of the day and it should contribute to the needs of the Indian Market. Working on these lines, as a part of the Process Development & Design team at CSIR-IICT, she has contributed significantly to the processes of fine chemicals, which have been developed for the Indian need-based industries and are indigenous in nature. She has played a key role right from the bench-scale experiments to the commercial plant design of the technology/products. She has worked on the development and design of commercial processes for China import substitute chemicals such as alkylation of toluene to para-tert-butyltoluene (PTBT), para-tert-butylbenzoic acid (PTBBA) & its esterification to methyl para-tert-butylbenzoic acid (MPTBBA), para-methoxy phenylacetic acid (PMPAA), and Avobenzone. The technologies developed for PTBT and PTBBA have been successfully commissioned to the Industrial partner and some are at the technology package (Basic Design Report) submission stage. The sustainable development of these fine chemicals supports the Nation's emphasis on “Vocal for Local”. She has also performed the Phase Equilibrium and Thermodynamic studies of industrially streams for the design of commercial plants, whose database is not readily available. Some of her findings were adopted by the NIST-Thermodynamic Research Centre, USA.
Besides this, Dr. Alka is involved in socially relevant projects such as the conversion of biomass to value-added products such as “Process development and Basic Design Report for 1 ton/day of Furfural Alcohol and by-product 2-Furoic Acid from Furfural using corncob biomass” which further transformed into Tetrahydrofufuryl alcohol. The keen interest in contributing to society has led her to pursue research on “Conversion of agricultural/stubble wastes to value-added materials” for the removal of pesticides from the watershed systems. The engineered biochar was prepared from de-oiled Karanja seed cake, residual Chilli stem, and utilized as an absorbent for the removal of herbicides and Th(IV) from wastewater as well as used as a catalyst for the esterification of Lactic acid. The bio-oil produced from pyrolysis of agricultural waste is being utilized effectively as a pesticidal activity for the plants and the bio-oil with mixed bio-char for the development of eco-friendly fertilizers.
In the recognition of her work, Dr. Alka has been awarded the Young Scientist award-2017 by Telangana Academy of Sciences (TAS), Hyderabad, and CSIR-IICT Women Scientist Award-2019 and Young Engineer of the Year Award-2020 by the Institute of Engineers, India (IEI) and Government of Telangana. As a part of the process development and design team, she also received the CSIR Technology Award, 2018 from Union Minister Dr. Harshvardhan. She has published around 23 papers in reputed international journals and presented her contributions in several national and international conferences, besides guiding 6 M.Tech and 10 B.Tech dissertations. She has been elected as the Associate member of “The Institute of Engineers (India)” in 2016 and a Life Member of IICHE.