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Prof. Anil K. Bhowmick is recognized for his impressive innovation, and development and commercialization of rubber products. Professor Bhowmick developed compositions and processing techniques for energy optimized conveyor belt compound, for Phoenix-Yule, an Indo-German company (now Phoenix Conveyer Belt (I) Pvt. Ltd.) for the first time in the world. This belt consumes much lower energy than the conventional belt during operation and the patented technology is being sold in the international market. The track pads and the rubberised road wheels for Military Battle Tanks were developed by Prof. Bhowmick and his team. The compounds and their processing were first developed in the laboratory, and the products were then manufactured by Sundaram Industries, Madurai, India, as per his guidelines, and tested in Defence trial track as well as on rugged terrain in the war zones. The developed pads gave life more than three times expected from such rubber pads. These are being used by the Indian Defence even today. As Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, wrote, this was a “valuable contribution and commendable work”.

Professor Bhowmick applied electron beam technology to rubber as an alternative and green crosslinking system in rubber in the early days. Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India and a local company (NICCO Cable) used the developments and his technology to manufacture EPDM and chlorinated polyethylene based cables in collaboration with him. These were the first electron beam cured products from India. The developed rubbers have high temperature withstanding capability, ruggedness, better crush resistance, and  better scrap abrasion resistance. All these rubbers met the cable specification of mechanical properties, air aging, volume resistivity, breakdown voltage and oil resistance in diesel & mineral spirit and limiting oxygen index. These were manufactured commercially and sold in the domestic and international market by NICCO.

Professor Bhowmick and his team developed indigenously rubber rolls (Wringer/squeeze Roll, Pinch Roll, Looper Roll, Bridle Roll, etc.) for Cold Rolling Mills (CRM) of TATA STEEL, one of the largest steel companies in the world. This innovative technology has resulted 100-600% improvement in service life in different lines of CRM. The performance of the rubber rolls remains unmatched in comparison to the rolls being supplied by national and international suppliers even today, according to the Vice-President, Tata Steel. It has reduced the mill down time due to rubber roll problems by 30-60%, which increased the productivity of the mill. There are nine patents, which speaks volume about the innovativeness of the technology and the company achieved performance improvement more than their target and financial benefits from the successful technology transfer.

Professor Bhowmick’s innovative work resulted in a series of novel polymer based nanocomposites. The applications have been made in tyre (JK Tyre, India) where the developed nanocomposite gives better wet traction, wear resistance and rolling resistance, and in non-tyre sector (DENKA, Japan), where the designed nanocomposites impart higher mechanical properties and heat resistance and are covered by several patents in Japan, USA, and other countries.

Thermoplastics elastomers are a class of materials which can be processed at high temperatures like plastics, but show rubbery behaviour like elastomers at room temperature. A series of these materials, both blocks and blends, have been developed/modified in Prof. Bhowmick’s laboratory. His patent with SABIC/GE is interesting. One of the pioneering researches in this field is the development of high temperature thermoplastic elastomers, and understanding the morphology of these materials at the nano- and molecular levels. A novel invention in this field was to develop thermoplastic elastomers from waste rubber and waste plastics, which are very important today in the age of sustainability.

The impregnable urge for sustainable development has clinched the attention of polymer science & technology in recent years. Prof. Bhowmick’s work in this respect has gone into three dimensions: (a) Development of new polymers by replacing the fossil derived ones; (b) Reuse of waste rubbers & plastics; (c) Development of energy efficient technology in rubber processing. In addition, he developed many new polymers and their technology, which are successful. Some of these contributions like silane grafting of polyethylene and EPDM for cable manufacturing in Fort Gloster, India, hydrogenation of nitrile rubber, fluoroacrylate modified acrylic rubber for DENKA, Japan, modified styrene butadiene rubber, etc., are commercial materials today.

Professor Bhowmick also developed tube expander and cable joint using modified polyethylene, seals and diaphragm for chemical drum closer, flue duct expansion joints, belt and pinch roller for tape deck systems, rubber grooved pad, TPE based window seal compound, epoxy modified natural rubber for adhesive application, polymyrcene and its copolymers, new compositions using polymeric waste, etc.

Professor Bhowmick is currently a Research Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering, the University of Houston, former Professor of Eminence and Head of Rubber Technology Centre and Dean of Postgraduate Studies and Dean (Sponsored Research & Industrial Consultancy), IIT Kharagpur. Prof. Bhowmick was the Director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Patna. He was previously associated with the University of Akron, Ohio, USA, London School of Polymer Technology, London and Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan.

His main research interests are: Polymer Nanocomposites, Thermoplastic Elastomers and Polymer blends, Polymer modification, Rubber Technology, Failure and Degradation of Polymers, and Adhesion and Adhesives. He has more than six hundred publications in these fields in the peer reviewed international journals, 35 book chapters, seven co-edited books and two co-authored books. He was also co-editor of the special issue of Polymer and Composite Characterization of the Journal of Macromolecular Science (USA). He was the 2002 winner of the "Chemistry of Thermoplastic Elastomers" award and 1997 winner of the "George Stafford Whitby" award of the Rubber Division, American Chemical Society for distinguished teaching & innovative research, and 2001 K.M. Philip award of the All India Rubber Industries Association for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of rubber industries in India.

He has been awarded the Fred E. Schwab Education Award of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), USA in 2019. He received NOCIL award 1991, JSPS award 1990, Commonwealth award 1990, MRF award 1989, Stanton-Redcroft ITAS award 1989, Distinguished Visitor Award, University of Auckland, NZ, 2019, Distinguished Alumnus Award, IIT Kharagpur, 2019, and Syed Husain Zaheer Medal, 2020, for outstanding research in Engineering and Technology by the Indian National Science Academy.

He is on the Editorial Board of Rubber Chemistry and Technology (USA), Journal of Applied Polymer Science (USA), Journal of Materials Science (USA), Polymers and Polymer Composites (UK), Polymers for Advanced Technology (Germany), Processes (Germany), Journal of Rubber Research (Malaysia) and Natural Rubber Research (India). He is a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering, New Delhi, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, and West Bengal Science and Technology Academy.

    


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