Three graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, Ankur Kumar, Kanika Prajatat and Pracheer Dutta have developed a machine that can convert the hardy straw of paddy into a fibrous raw material that can be used by the pulp molding factories to prepare disposable cutlery.
In India despite a Supreme Court order, and a government scheme that offers stubble management machines at subsidized rates, farmers continue to burn crop residue after harvest, as they find it cheaper than clearing the crop residue manually or by using machines. The practice is rampant across rice-growing belts as paddy straw is neither a suitable fuel nor can be used as cattle feed. The situation is worse in Punjab and Haryana as the smoke resulting from burning the residue chokes Delhi and envelops the entire northern India with dense toxic smog for weeks.
Paddy straw is rich in silica, which slows down its rate of degradation and hence farmers choose to burn it post harvest to make the land reusable faster. The new machine, created by the trio as the first product of their startup Kriya Lab, uses an environment-friendly chemical that can strip the straw of silica, making it supple and usable. The pulp can be used as raw material for the pulp and paper industry.
For now the machine can convert one ton of paddy straw into 500 kilograms of pulp, which can then be sold at Rs. 45 per kilogram. It holds promise for those who want to start commercially viable ventures as there is a growing demand for ecofriendly cutlery and packaging materials, particularly the ones made from biomass waste. Read more
Material scientist Viney Dixit and his team at the Hydrogen Energy Center of Banaras Hindu University in India have discovered that carbonized coconut flesh contains secret ingredients that dramatically enhance its ability to store hydrogen.
Hydrogen is a potential renewable fuel because it can easily be generated from water using electrolysis. It also burns cleanly to produce water vapor. The hope is that it could also be distributed using the same global network of liquid fuel transport that moves petrol around the planet. However, one of the main challenges in its wide adoption as a renewable fuel is that hydrogen is difficult to store efficiently as it has a poor energy density by volume compared to petrol. That is why much of the material science research in this area has focused on finding materials that adsorb hydrogen efficiently and then release it again when it is required.
In their research, Viney and his team have shown that coconut outperforms a number of other hydrogen storage materials, particularly in its ability to work over many charging cycles. The team spent some time studying the microstructure of the carbonized coconut flesh to work out why it performs so well. And they have pinpointed two mechanisms. The first is that the carbonized coconut flesh contains a significant amount of potassium chloride, which polarizes the carbon matrix in which it is embedded. This enhances the hydrogen adsorption capacity. The second is that the carbon matrix also contains significant amounts of magnesium, which is known to enhance the dissociation of hydrogen molecules, making them easier to adsorb. That is an interesting result that suggests some promising avenues for future research. Read more
At a time when the agricultural workforce is scarce, three mechanical engineering graduates in Puducherry have developed a multifunctional machine prototype to help farmers in sowing seeds, removing weeds, and harvesting crops.
C Premkumar, R Sathianarayanan and N Hemachandran have developed a prototype machine to assist farmers in sowing and harvesting crops like groundnut and pulses and in removing weeds in the fields. The developers said the machine, which can be powered by diesel or solar energy or biogas, would enhance the agricultural yield as it sows seeds at equal intervals and harvests crops without damaging them.
The machine also reduces the time consumed for farming activities. A worker with the help of the machine will take roughly two to three hours for sowing one acre of land whereas to complete the task manually it requires minimum two workers to toil for six to eight hours. Moreover, the machine can sow eight rows in one stretch while manually workers can sow only one row at a time.
The trio’s prototype is cost-effective as compared to existing machines in the market. Also, as it is self-powered, it does not need to be connected to a tractor for sowing, unlike the existing sowing machines in the market. Read more
Earth 100, a firm based out of Gurgaon in Haryana, India has launched its first fleet of environment-friendly “100 percent bio-diesel cars”. Jindal Power is a major investor in the firm, while Mahindra plays a crucial role as a technology partner.
Megha Rathee, COO of Earth-100, said, “We have had successful pilot projects in Bengaluru and Mumbai and are confident that the cars introduced in the first phase in Gurgaon will be successful. Acceptability and demand for such green vehicles for has also gone up and clients are willing to pay a premium for green services now. We plan to start operations in Mumbai and Bengaluru and create new benchmarks in the carbon footprint reduction space.” Read more