Keynote Speakers

Ramesh K. Agarwal
William Palm Professor of Engineering
Washington University in St. Louis, USA

Professor Ramesh K. Agarwal is the William Palm Professor of Engineering in the department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Washington University in St. Louis. From 1994 to 2001, he was the Sam Bloomfield Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University in Kansas. From 1978 to 1994, he was the Program Director and McDonnell Douglas Fellow at McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratories in St. Louis. Dr. Agarwal received Ph.D in Aeronautical Sciences from Stanford University in 1975, M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1969 and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India in 1968. Over a period of 45 years, Professor Agarwal has worked in various areas of Computational Science and Engineering - Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Computational Acoustics and Electromagnetics, Computational Materials Science and Manufacturing and Multidisciplinary Design and Optimization. He is the author and coauthor of over 600 publications. He has given many plenary, keynote and invited lectures at various national and international conferences worldwide in over sixty countries. He is a Fellow of 22 professional societies including American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Physical Society (APS) and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He has received many prestigious honors and national/international awards from various professional societies and organizations for his research contributions including the AIAA Reeds Aeronautics Award, SAE Medal of Honor, ASME Honorary Membership and Honorary Fellowship from Royal Aeronautical Society.

Speech Title: Environmentally Responsible Biodegradable ‘Green’ Composites

Abstract: Most advanced composites currently available are made using non-degradable polymeric resins such as epoxies, esters, polyurethane, etc., and high strength and/or high stiffness fibers such as graphite, aramids, and glass, designed for long term durability. While they have desirable mechanical, thermal and chemical properties, they have two major disadvantages. First, the materials used are not sustainable; the high performance fibers (except glass) and resins are almost entirely derived from petroleum, and secondly these composites are non-degradable under normal environmental conditions. In recent years, the growing environmental concerns have pushed research in the area of bio-degradable green composites since they do not require petroleum (source of greenhouse gas emissions) and land-fills at the end of their lives.  In green polymer composites, one of the two chemicals from which they are synthesized can be produced sustainably reducing their carbon footprint. For example, polyurethanes (PU) can now be produced using polyols from soybean oil, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from ethylene glycol, and polybutylene succinate (PBS) from succinic acid. Use of renewable plant-based lignocellulosic fibers has been a natural choice for reinforcing (or filling) polymers to make them greener. Plenty of examples can be found where plant-based fibers are used for reinforcing non-degradable thermoplastic polymers such as PP, high, medium, and low density polyethylene (HDPE, MDPE, LDPE), nylons, polyvinylchloride (PVC), and polyesters as well as thermoset resins such as epoxies and esters to produce  greener composites. Due to their good mechanical properties, longer plant-based fibers, extracted from the stems or leaves of plants such as abaca, bamboo, flax, henequen, hemp, jute, kenaf, pineapple, ramie, sisal, etc., are being evaluated as low cost alternative reinforcements to commonly used glass fibers to make composites. These fibers are annually renewable, as compared to wood which takes 20–25 years to grow before it can be cut and used. Significant research efforts are currently being spent in developing a new class of fully biodegradable or compostable green composites by combining natural fibers with biodegradable resins. Most of the current technology is still in the research and development stage. This presentation will review some of these developments and their current and potential applications, especially in construction and transportation sector.