Currently working as a professor and head of the department of petroleum engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, Dr Ajay Mandal has been prevalent in the field of petroleum engineering throughout his career.
“I started by completing my Bachelor of Science in chemistry before doing my B.Tech and M.Tech in chemical engineering,” says Ajay. “From there, I did my PhD at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, furthering my interest in chemical engineering.”
Ajay has a research interest in upstream operations and enhanced oil recovery. “So many chemicals are used for enhanced recovery of oil from the field and injection of polymers and surfactants provides an efficient alternative to other techniques. In our lab, we are synthesizing different surfactants and polymer to see if it is compatible with the commercially available surfactants and polymers.
“So far, they are providing very good results and are available at a relatively low cost. We have published a number of breakthrough results on enhanced oil recovery along with the intricated interfacial phenomena by the unique formulation of the chemicals. We have also developed some mechanisms to inhibit gas hydrate formation by use of our synthesized surfactants and other commercially available chemicals. These mechanisms are very important in developing the technology to produce natural gas from gas hydrate reservoirs.”
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Although he now works in engineering, Ajay has always really enjoyed chemistry and has continued to research the subject alongside his work. “My research is always based on chemistry and published in reputable journals. My love for chemistry led me to find the Royal Society of Chemistry – a big organisation in the field that could provide me with a really important platform to explore. So I joined and recently became a Fellow.
“Thanks to this recognition from the RSC, I am getting so many best wishes from my collaborators and friends, as well as from people who are not associated with me. I am very much delighted with this.”
Ajay has published more than 170 research papers, books and book chapters, two of which have been published in RSC Advances. “One is on the synthesis of natural surfactant and application in enhanced oil recovery, and the other is on low salinity water flooding for enhanced oil recovery. In the future I am hoping to publish more journals with the RSC as when I read them, I find them very insightful.
“The RSC journals are very good in the fundamentals of chemistry. And their high standard, quality, processing and quick publication time is excellent because it is peer-reviewed. I am also a regular reviewer of different journals of RSC.
“Overall, I am very pleased to be a member of this society. When I speak to others working in applied chemistry or chemistry, I tell them to join this society as it is a good platform for them to get to know each other and any recent developments in the field of chemistry.”