B. B. Lal Chair at IIT Kanpur

B. B. Lal Chair

Mr. Vrajesh Lal

Mr. Vrajesh Lal (BT/MME/1970) has set up a faculty Chair in honour of his father Professor B. B. Lal. The Chair is meant for a faculty member of the Institute who has worked on science and technology related to archaeological work. Prof. B. B. Lal is a renowned archaeologist and was the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India during 1968 to 1972. He was later Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. He has published several books and over 150 research papers in scientific journals. In addition to the numerous other awards and honours, Prof. Lal was awarded the Padma Bhusana by the President of India in 2000. Vrajesh is the founder/CEO of the Wrapper USA, a leading women's fashion firm and is involved in a number of philanthropic activities. He is currently a Director on the Board of State Bank of India (California) and also on the Board of Villa Esperanza Services, a non-profit that serves mainly individuals with learning disability.

Past Occupant of B. B. Lal Chair
Late Professor R Balasubramaniam
Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Kanpur - 208016, India
Office: FB-311
Phone: +91-512-259-7089
Email: bala@iitk.ac.in

Professor Balasubramaniam’s major areas of research interest are corrosion science and engineering, materials-hydrogen interactions, and archaeometallurgy. After graduating in metallurgical engineering from the BHU in 1984 with a gold medal, he completed his PhD in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA in 1990. He has, since then, been at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering. He is the recipient of several prestigious awards like the BHU University Gold Medal (1984), BHU Ghandhy Gold Medal (1984), Indian Institute of Metals Vishwa Bharathi Award (1984), INSA Young Scientist Award (1993), Humboldt Fellowship (1996), MRSI Medal (1999), Metallurgist of the Year (1999), Marathi Sahitya Parishad Shershtha Prize (2008) and Indian Institute of Metals Educator of the Year (2009). The widely published author is the author of nine books including the popular text book Callister’s Materials Science and Engineering (Wiley India, New Delhi, 2007, Paperback, ISBN-81-265-1076-5) and is on the editorial board of several international journals. His significant research work on the famous Delhi Iron Pillar has received national and international acclaim. Some significant scientific and professional engineering accomplishments are summarized below.

Corrosion Science and Engineering
Corrosion science refers to environmental degradation of engineering materials, which occurs by aqueous corrosion at ambient temperature and oxidation at high temperatures. The corrosion behavior of a range of engineering materials has been addressed by the nominee and new insights on the nature of passive films and passivation mechanisms have been elucidated by Professor Balasubramaniam. The engineering materials studied include a wide range of materials like nanocrystalline materials, iron aluminides, composite materials, phosphoric irons, corrosion-resistant rail steel, copper in soil, couples of light metal industrial alloys of Al and Mg and biomaterials. His research has revealed the important role played by the passive films on the corrosion resistance of these advanced engineering materials. The role of alloying additions in enhancing passivation has been stressed as the most appropriate method to prevent corrosion, in contrast to temporary methods like surface coatings that only control corrosion but not prevent it altogether. This idea has been innovatively used by Professor Balasubramaniam in the development of phosphoric irons for concrete reinforcement applications and novel corrosion resistant rail steels. These materials exhibit superior corrosion resistance compared to the materials currently in use. The corrosion resistant rail steel developed by the team headed by him has been recommended for use by the Indian Railways. These new rail compositions have shown good results in field tests in corrosion-prone sea coast areas. After completion of field trials, the corrosion-resistant rails will find service in Indian Railways. A significant amount of monetary savings is anticipated in this application.
Professor Balasubramaniam is involved in major alloy development initiatives in consultation with user industries and manufacturers. The corrosion behavior of light metal couples for automotive applications is being investigated in a major project sponsored by General Motors, USA. He has interacted actively with Honeywell Corportaion, USA in the development of nanostructured coatings for corrosion mitigation of aerospace alloys and MEMS devices. A major project is underway where coating technologies to replace cadmium coatings in the aerospace industry is being actively explored. This is sponsored by Boeing, USA.
As a mark of recognition for his research dealing with corrosion, he is on the Editorial Board of several prestigious international corrosion journals.

Materials-Hydrogen Interactions
The issues addressed by Professor Balasubramaniam in materials-hydrogen interactions relate to hydrogen embrittlement of materials, hysteresis in metal-hydrogen systems and fundamental understanding of hydrogen behaviour (like hydrogen solubility, hydrogen diffusivity, etc.) in composite materials. He has revealed the important role played by hydrogen (formation of brittle hydrides) in the stress corrosion cracking of Al-Li alloys. Novel heat treatment procedures (retrogressing and re-ageing treatments) have been successfully evaluated for lowering the degree of embrittlement. Hydrogen behaviour in composite materials (especially Pd-nanooxide systems) has been addressed in detail. The role of hydrogen trapping at reversible and irreversible trapping sites in the material has been co-related to several material properties. Hydrogen behaviour (like thermodynamics, diffusivity, hydrogen-induced phase separation, etc.) has been understood in several Pd-nanooxide composite systems. Professor Balasubramaniam has been actively researching materials for hydrogen energy systems. An important problem in the utilization of hydrogen storage materials (and hence, hydrogen energy) is the problem of hysteresis, which is the energy lost during each cycle of hydriding and dehydriding. The topic of hysteresis has been scientifically discussed for more than seven decades. Professor Balasubramaniam has provided valuable new metallurgical insights on this problem by considering the elasto-plastic accommodation of transformation strain energies.

Professor Balasubramaniam has been actively involved in highlighting the wonderful achievements of ancient Indian metallurgists for the benefit of the academic and general community. In this regard, he has pioneered several studies on the Metallurgical Marvel of ancient India, namely the Delhi Iron Pillar. Professor Balasubramaniam has proposed and validated, for the first time, the protective passive film mechanism for the excellent corrosion resistance of the Delhi Iron Pillar through a detailed characterization of the pillar rust. Based on these studies, novel phosphoric irons have been developed and their superior corrosion resistance in concrete reinforcement conditions has been proven, compared to conventional materials used for this application. These phosphoric irons have been patented.

Professor Balasubramaniam has also provided new insights into several other aspects of the Delhi Iron Pillar, like its history, dimensional analysis, soil corrosion, analysis of the Sanskrit inscription, lead presence in the pillar, decorative bell capital, manufacturing methodology, astronomical significance, corrosion resistance, and protective passive film nature. These results have been collected and published in the form of a book: Delhi Iron Pillar: New Insights (Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, and Aryan Books International, 2002, Hardbound, ISBN-81-7305-223-9.). The nominee has recently published a economically-priced paperback book in which he has explained the historical and technical aspects of the pillar in a language suitable for high school students: Story of the Delhi Iron Pillar (Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2005, Paperback, ISBN-81-7596-301-8). This book has been translated in Marathi: Prachin Bharatiya Dhattushastriye Ashchharya: Dilli Loha Stambha (co-author: P.P. Deshpande, Sushama Prakashan, 2007, ISBN 81-90612-20-4). Another research book dealing with significant archaeological structures in the Qutub Minar complex at New Delhi has also been published: The World Heritage Complex of the Qutub, (Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2005, Hardbound, ISBN 81-7305-293-X). Professor Balasubramaniam has recently highlighted the contribution of India in the history of technology of iron and steel in a popular book: Marvels of Indian Iron through the Ages, (Rupa and Co, New Delhi, 2008, Hardbound ISBN 978-81-291-1184-5). He is also the first author to write an authoritative history of cannon technology in the Indian subcontinent, which was published recently: The Saga of Indian Cannons, (Aryan Books International, 2008, Hardbound, ISBN 978-81-7305-339-9). In view of the nominee’s significant contribution in archaeometallurgical research, he is on the editorial board (since 2003) of the Indian Journal of History of Science, published by INSA.

Professor Balasubramaniam has vast experience in teaching materials engineering and corrosion, and in research activities related to corrosion, materials-hydrogen interactions and archaeometallurgy.

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