Women Behind Innovation: Dr. Arpana Verma

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Dr. Arpana Verma is the Vice President Technology at NanoMech and a co-inventor of founding patent for nGlide lubricant technology platform. Arpana provides science and engineering leadership for business development for NanoMech Energy from Houston for the Oil and Gas and related manufacturing sectors. NanoMech Energy supports global Oil & Gas businesses including upstream, midstream & downstream such as fracking, drilling and completion services for iconic customers incuding but not limited to Cameron, A Schlumberger Company; Baker Hughes, a GE company; TechnipFMC; Halliburton; MHWirth. Arpana is affiliated to multiple esteemed education organizations including STLE, NLGI, API serving in different roles through committees and outreach programs working with various Industry leaders and pioneers. Prior to rejoining NanoMech, Arpana spent 8 years in Lubricant Industry working for Hydrotex & Bestolife as R & D executives. Arpana is a graduate of premiere Indian Institute of Technology in Material Science & Engineering and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville working with many innovators and guiding young scholars in STEM through outreach programs.

The Edison Awards recently spoke with Dr. Verma about her interest in science, what misconceptions she feels people have about the fields and some of her career highlights. Here’s what she had to say: (edited for brevity and clarity)

When did your interest in science or engineering begin?

It all began in college, when I looked under high resolution microscope-science behind objects & materials. Interestingly, in high school, I thought it is highly complex to choose as a career where there will be a lot of competition. Nevertheless, my father who always believed in me shared stories of struggle and success behind great role models and that made me realize that it is also very rewarding experience. Being interested in the fundamental nature of matter, I enjoy viewing things from its smallest units, and develop a deeper understanding to control and build our present and future using efficient, sustainable and innovative technologies. I developed lot of interest in questions such as “How do you convert raw materials into useful products through the application of interdisciplinary fields including mechanical engineering, material science, nanomanufacturing, corrosion science and chemistry on a large scale.

What was it like to be a woman studying in your field? 

As a woman, somedays felt special with the breakthrough moment in your project or a marvelous opportunity in your hand that you always wished for and somedays lot of struggle with stereotypes. Fortunately, I received tremendous support from parents, teachers and mentors to help me stay positive and productive in tough times and critical decision making. If you have the right support it makes you believe in it, even if nobody else does. This fostered lot of confidence, self-esteem, persistence and a profound work ethic. It helped to reinforce my career plans further.

What do you like about your field and what you do?

By 2030, 9.3 billion people will walk this earth. The world is forever growing and evolving, as is the demand for novel materials and better processes to produce these. Material Science & Engineering is a very fascinating field of all the branches of science and engineering. To me it truly reflects human endeavour and spirit through means such as the exploration of unknown substances, and making something of worth and value out of mere raw materials. It is very rewarding in the end when you get the result that you were looking for, or when you get a completely different result than what you were looking for. Just knowing that you were able to start from a question or hypothesis and work to the result that could possibly make a big difference in people’s lives. I believe there are several misconceptions due to lack of awareness and information among students on how multi-disciplinary this field is. Through proper college and career counselling, I am glad I made a well-informed decision.

Share with us some of your career highlights.

Biggest accomplishment for any scientist if to work on projects that bring value to humankind and manufacturing world. As one of the coinventors of the founding patents that received Edison awards for innovation in 2017, I feel that moment everyday. At NanoMech, winner of multiple Edison awards along with other Innovation awards, we take that pledge to support mechanical systems inside out and outside in so they can outperform & outlast any condition.

After finishing my Master’s Thesis and in my first job, I soon realized the power of knowledge and will to pursue your dreams. I decided to leave the job and enroll for my Ph.D to build the macrostructure that laid the foundation of next generation lubricants. Many believe that lubricant field is an old and dirty business to be in and no innovation is needed until they tested nGlide. Infact, through the proper business models and category creation, it has shown to boost the performance of any moving machinery/components by reducing lethal effect of heat, corrosion wear & tear.

Authored 1 book, 2 patents, 6 publications on doctoral research project. Active members of several associations, naming few: American Petroleum Institute (API), Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE), National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI), Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association (ILMA), National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), Women in Energy Network (WEN)

How is your company bringing innovation to the forefront?

The broad market segment in which NanoMech Industries is competing is Nanomanufacturing*. Patented and patents-pending nanomanufacturing processes allow NanoMech innovators to design and integrate new materials at nano-scale to realize high-value, high-performance products. NanoMech has focused on platform nanomanufacturing technologies that offer a broad range of high value market opportunities including Nanolubricants and Lubricant & Surface Coatings, Nanocomposite polymers, nanoengineered polymers. Many of them received Edison awards beginning 2014, 2015 & 2017.

NanoMech has targeted several emerging high potential segments within the nanomanufacturing market, nanoverse. Due to the diverse nature of the markets that NanoMech’s core technologies serve, the company has formed separate operating divisions or subsidiary companies for products in large markets. Management and business development teams with industry-specific expertise have been recruited to execute the go-to-market strategy. I am part of the NanoMech Energy segment focusing on Oil & Gas business to provide value to the customer in the $50 oil market.

Every day, NanoMech is shipping globally to Fortune 100 companies as well as to emerging companies who have chosen to innovate their way to the top by incorporating our nano-engineered solutions into disruptive and far more competitive products. Overnight, NanoMech has brought revolutionary and transformative innovation to world leaders in automotive, transportation and trucking; retail; energy manufacturing, exploration and service; truck and marine manufacturing; Indy and NASCAR racing; agriculture and construction equipment manufacturers; refining and formulating lubrication manufacturers; aerospace manufacturing; textile manufacturers; and advanced military applications.

To date, what project is your greatest success? What is the story behind that innovation?

The nGlide® technology platform which is internationally awarded patented and patents-pending macromolecular™ technology. It was developed during my doctoral research at University of Arkansas along with NanoMech as a commercial partner. Dr. Ajay P Malshe, my advisor and mentor guided me though the steps of innovation leading to commercialization.

This nano-inspired breakthrough technology extends the life and performance of the hydrocarbon supply chain through dramatic reductions in friction and wear where energy losses are staggering, sometimes over 300% (see below graphics). This includes boundary lubrication and extending durability of mechanical parts to provide sustainability. Through the nGlide® suite of lubricant additive packages, our proprietary nano-science brings together unique abilities of organic and inorganic macromolecular™ lubrication chemistries for a range of advanced industrial applications for oil and gas, machining industries, robotics, automotive and transportation, aerospace, marine, heavy duty military, agriculture and construction, and other critical sectors for both new and used equipment. It is the next generation of advanced lubrication. This innovation goes beyond the scope of fullerene, graphene, carbon nanotubes and similar nano-lubricants, outperforming all other lubricants so dramatically, that nGlide® renders them obsolete. nGlide® is so effective in lowering the coefficient of friction that it borders on establishing frictionless lubrication scenarios.

“If the developments weren’t done in our own laboratories, and I hadn’t seen the results with my own eyes, I still wouldn’t believe it today. It really is a technological breakthrough.”- John Bartos, VP Technology & Development; Cameron, a Schlumberger company.

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