Origins & Evolution
The Department of Chemical Engineering at IISc began as a center for excellence in research and higher education in chemical engineering to address the needs of a phenomenally growing chemical industry in post-independence India. Established in 1943 as a wing of the Division of Pure and Applied Chemistry, it was bestowed the full status of a department in 1947. After its inclusion into the Engineering Faculty in 1961, it was renamed as the Department of Chemical Engineering.
The department has evolved significantly over the last seven decades, reflecting changes in the Indian chemical industry and the chemical engineering profession worldwide. Initial research in the fifties and sixties focused on thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, catalysis, and unit operations, and was followed in the seventies by chemical reactor theory. Design and development of catalysts for homogeneous and heterogeneous reactions and a variety of chemical reactors central to our industry were key contributions of the department at the time. In subsequent years, our department established itself at the forefront of research in multiphase systems. As newer areas like colloid and interfacial science, biochemical engineering, complex fluids, and polymer science emerged in the eighties, our department developed cutting edge research programs in these areas. Consequently, it has emerged as a major center for expertise in modeling complex fluids and advanced materials today. Similarly, efforts in biochemical engineering have culminated in the establishment of several novel bioreactors across the country.
The turn of the century is witnessing the fusion of traditional chemical engineering areas with modern fields like information science, communication technology, nanoscience, and biology. Reflecting this transition, our department has acquired a significantly interdisciplinary character. Our current activities emcompass diverse areas like biochemical and metabolic engineering, colloid and interfacial science, complex fluids, environmental engineering, granular flows, molecular modeling and simulation, nanotechnology, theoretical biology, transfer processes, and process systems engineering. At the same time, we proudly retain our traditional strengths in reactor analysis, multiphase systems, and catalysis.