Researcher Spotlight: Jai Prakash

Dr. Jai Prakash is a senior project scientist in the Department of Civil Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-Delhi) and working on the National Carbonaceous Aerosol Programme (NCAP) in India. He received his PhD in Environmental Engineering from IIT Delhi and his Masters degree in Environmental Science & Engineering from IIT (ISM) Dhanbad . He also holds an Masters in Physics from CCS University, Meerut, India. He was also senior project associate at Civil Engineering Department, IIT Kanpur. He has authored seven publications in international peer-reviewed journals, and has received best poster awards at multiple conferences. He is also one of the recipients of the SERB-National Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2017 (about the fellowship).  Photo_1

His research interests include:

  • Aerosol emission characterization at sources and its impact on direct radiative forcing
  • Secondary aerosol formation (SOA) from fossil fuels and biomass burning
  • Source apportionment and health risk assessment for aerosols

Find him on ResearchGate, or send him an e-mail.

A short Q & A with Dr. Jai Prakash:

What got you interested in air quality research?

In the last decade, limited measurements are available for Indian vehicles tested on dynamometer using the Indian driving cycle. The variabilities in vehicle emissions were attributed to a range of factors including road conditions, user habits or on-road driving pattern and fuel type (and adulteration). Notably, emissions of aerosols and their precursors from vehicles, especially, during on-road operation have not been assessed for the Indian subcontinent.

Therefore, I developed a portable dilution system (PDS) for aerosol and gaseous pollutant measurement from combustion sources. My PhD research on the development of mobile sampling system is first of its kind in India. I evaluated the dilution system using chassis dynamometer and also evaluated effects of residence time and dilution ratio in the gas to particle partitioning. For the first time in India, Aerosol Emissions Measurement System (AEMS) has been used for aerosol emissions from light duty vehicles and we have characterized their chemical, and optical properties during on-road operation in mixed traffic.

This system is a very valuable technology for India as well as other developing countries. Using this approach, we saw that real-time vehicle emissions are quite different from the dynamometer studies, and understanding the differences can beneficial for developing emission load and estimating impacts on climate and health. 

Congratulations on the SERB Postdoctoral Fellowship! What is your project focused on? 

During this fellowship, my research work will focus on light absorbing properties by brown carbon aerosols from wood-burning cook stoves in the Indo-Gangetic plains.

Water soluble organic carbon (WSOC) absorbs light and originates from sources such as biomass burning. This component of organic carbon is termed as brown carbon (BrC) and is a complex mixture of organic compounds and have shown wavelength dependent absorption in UV and near visible region. It is important to understand the sources of BrC in the atmosphere, and understand its contribution to aerosols.

As part of this project, I will conduct a detailed characterization of WSOC including analysis of chemical and optical properties of biomass burning aerosols (through ambient and source measurements of biomass cookstoves), and determination of contribution of brown and black (soot) carbon to aerosol radiative forcing using climate models. 

More about BrC here and if you really want to read about it, check out this review.

In general, think about organic carbon as one of the ingredients in the recipe for particles. Other ingredients include soot (black stuff you see coming out of that really old truck on the road), metals like zinc and lead and other chemical species. 

What kind of resources do you think would be most helpful in advancing your career?

At present, policymakers and other institutions are not giving any credit to institutes/labs on innovative research which could be more beneficial to our society. For example, my PhD work is very timely and very important for society given the detrimental impact of vehicular emissions on air quality. In 2015, Volkswagen’s scandal in North America and in Europe, and developments since, have shown that emission factors provided by car manufacturers correspond at best with optimized in-laboratory conditions and at worst to falsified computer-controlled conditions. Emission factors in real world conditions, i.e. on the road and under real driving conditions, may be different than emission factors “advertised” by car manufacturers. It is therefore of paramount importance that academic and research institutions provide government and regulation authorities with the tools to perform actual measurements of emission factors. Developing effective air quality policies require detailed and accurate emission inventories of pollutants. 

Policymakers and government organizations should hire or collaborate with young scientists who are undertaking cutting-edge research with significant societal impact. 

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