Technology Innovations

Posts Tagged ‘Energy


Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee have fabricated low-cost thin film solar cells by extracting the plant pigments from plums, black currants, and berries.

The team found that the plant pigments are good at absorbing sunlight. According to a study, published in the Journal of Photovoltaics, plant pigments are naturally occurring biodegradable and nontoxic molecules that are extracted using techniques that involve negligible cost to the environment and therefore can provide eco-friendly alternatives to synthetic dyes that are used for thin film solar cells production.

The researchers at IIT-Roorkee extracted the plant pigments using ethanol to create the thin film solar cells. And while the organic thin film solar cells are not yet as efficient as conventional silicon-based solar cells, the team is investigating ways to make them more efficient and cost-effective. Read the full report by Lorraine Chow.

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Bulbh1

Bulbh: A micro-USB powered light

Bangalore-based Aditya Agarwal (23) has created a coin-sized micro-USB powered 1.2 watt white LED bulb, called Bulbh, that emits twice the light than a one watt compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb.

Created and designed at Aditya’s startup My Dream Bird, the Bulbh is a small, slim, micro-USB powered light that has a light emitting capacity of 120-130 lumens as compared to 60 lumens per watt of a CFL and 12-17 lumens per watt of an incandescent lamp. It can be used as an emergency light, a cycle light, night light, in wardrobes, for photography, or as a helmet light.

This September Aditya plans to launch Bulbh in a ‘buy one, donate one’ model where every Bulbh that is sold online, one unit will get donated in India to the communities that are still using incandescent bulbs to reduce their cost of living.

Why it matters

The traditional incandescent yellow light bulbs are much less efficient than other types of electric lighting; they use less than five percent of energy into visible light, converting the rest into heat. Though the manufacturing cost of incandescent bulbs is less, its low light emitting capacity and high power consumption factors have led the European Union, China, Canada and United States to consider phasing it out. India too is slowly moving towards banishing the incandescent bulbs.

As incandescent lamps phase out, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are being assembled into a light bulb. Like incandescent lamps, and unlike CFL lamps, LEDs come to full brightness without the need for a warm-up time. They have a lifespan and electrical efficiency that is significantly better than the rest.

The LED lamp market is projected to grow multi-fold over the next decade, to $25 billion by 2023 (see source). Aditya’s Bulbh taps into this emerging market.

Speaking of the micro-USB powered light, he says, “The Bulbh can be powered by any micro-USB chord that can be connected to a power source such as a mobile device adapter, a power bank, a personal computer or a laptop. It has been ergonomically designed for use in various conditions and emits bright light. It is specifically targeted for mobile phone users of the world who already have micro-USB adapters.” This is a large user base. According to a report, the number of mobile phone users in the world is likely to reach almost 5.3 billion by 2017.

The Bulbh

The Bulbh: Inside out

The Bulbh: Inside out

To make Bulbh emit light uniformly in all directions, the product has been given a custom casing of silicon and thermoplastic alloy. The casing also prevents Bulbh from heating up, even after 24 hours of continuous use. A tiny circuit of LEDs lies inside the enclosure.

To achieve the color rendering index (CRI) of 80, which is equivalent to any CFL, and twice the lumens per watt than a CFL, Aditya has created Bulbh by using six 0.2 watt Everlight LEDs, each with a capacity of emitting 24 lumens of light. All LEDs have been placed in a series on an aluminum-core printed circuit board that maintains the circuit temperature uniformly.

The circuit comprises a dedicated high-frequency DC-DC converter that operates as a constant-current source. There is provision for high switching frequency that regulates the amount of inrush current and prepares the circuit for a soft start. This also prevents the circuit from over-voltage, short-circuit and over-temperature incidents.

On the outside, each Bulbh is fitted with a neodymium magnetic base so that the users can stick it on any metal surface. Initially, My Dream Bird plans to provide two extra magnetic stickers with the product so users can stick it to metal, stone wall, wood, ceramic or glass.

With its coin-sized smooth form factor, Bulbh looks sleek. The tiny lamp, with a rounded shape similar to that of an Indian sweet called ‘batasha’, is just 0.6 inches in height and 1.3 inches in width, and weighs between 30-35 grams.

Buy One, Donate One

As Bulbh finds its users in the market, Aditya plans to execute his ‘buy one, donate one’ campaign simultaneously. “The idea of donating Bulbh occurred to me when I saw hawkers in Kolkata selling their goods under candle light. I found out that they do not buy incandescent bulbs or CFLs as they get heated up and they cannot afford LED lights. Hence, for each Bulbh that is sold online, I plan to donate one to such communities and users in India,” explains Aditya. Initially, he plans to sell Bulbh through popular e-commerce channels in the U.S. and the European Union countries.

 

 

My Dream Bird has collaborated with non-governmental organizations such as Goonj, Smile Foundation, Round Table India, and HelpAge India to ensure donated Bulbh lamps reach hawkers, students, underprivileged children and the elderly communities in India.

Next Step

Bulbh will be launched in the U.S. and European markets by September 2015. Once he is able to raise $400,000 funding, Aditya plans to open-source the project.

For more details, contact Aditya at aa@mydreambird.com or visit the Bulbh website.


A team of three students, Bisman Deu, Rayvin Thingnam, and Ekambir Singh, has invented “Green Wood” made out of recycled rice husks and straw that could be used an as alternative building material. 

Majority of the world’s population eat rice as a staple food, and the crop dominates cereal production in many developing countries. The threshing of rice produces unwanted husks and straw, and the options for disposal are limited: burning, composting or feeding to animals on the farm. The residues have no commercial value and therefore the farmers end up burning the rice waste – causing air pollution, killing crop-friendly insects and making the topmost layer of soil partially infertile due to loss of nutrients.

As a cost-effective solution to this, the three-member team used rice husks and straw as the raw material, mixed the waste with a resin, and pressed the mixture into particle boards. The new particle boards are fungi- and mould-proof, waterproof, and affordable.

The innovation addresses many challenges such as reducing deforestation and pollution, providing extra source of income for farmers, and providing an environment-friendly, low-cost alternative material for building houses and furniture. Read more

Source: Guardian and Unicef 


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


Indian-American Sahil Doshi, a ninth grader from Pittsburg, has recently won ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ award for his innovative design of an eco-friendly battery that seeks to reduce carbon footprint while offering power for household usage. Sahil won the award at 2014 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Sahil’s prototype – the PolluCell – converts carbon dioxide into electricity, ingeniously helping to reduce carbon footprint while offering power for household uses. Watch the complete video for a detailed description of his innovation. Read more


Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Delhi, Bombay and Madras), along with Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and Technology and Action for Rural Development (TARA), have created a Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) that helps reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by almost 30 percent. The team’s innovative cement production process uses the new blend which substitutes up to half of the carbon intensive materials traditionally used to make cement.

The LC3 is a synergetic hydration of clinker (a dark grey nodular material made by heating ground limestone and clay at a temperature of about 1400-1500 Celsius), calcined clay, and crushed limestone to achieve the performance required from commercial cements, with clinker factors as low as 0.40 (as against 74 percent clinker present in the cement that is currently available in the market).

Reduction in the the quantity of limestone and clay that is used to manufacture cement will eventually also mean a little longer life for the limestone mines. According to a report, a LC3 plant is also likely to cost much less than the investment that is required for a clinker based cement factory.

Currently, more than 30 tons of LC3 has been produced and a building has been constructed near Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, to check the feasibility of the cement in constructions. Now the cement quality has to pass through standardization committee before it is accepted by the industries. As per a report, the research will not be patented and will rather be available to everyone once it has received due clearances. Read more


Australian startup called GoFar has created a telematics system that tells you in real time how well you are driving and what it is costing you. The startup is run by its founder Danny Adams and a team of four including partner Ian Davidson and Indian maths olympiad medallist Imam Syed. 

The GoFar is a pocket-sized device that is based on a Formula one performance meter. Using the device, drivers would know exactly how well they drive, the cost per trip and the savings they can make by driving well – both from an operational and insurance point of view. With GoFar placed on the dashboard, the driver is instantly informed if he or she does any of the following things: corners badly, swerves, over-brakes, overspeeds and/or over-accelerates.

The device plugs into the diagnostics port and shows the driver through a simple red and green display how he or she is driving. The driver subsequently “learns” how to avoid “wasteful” behaviour. The linked app also records and stores all the information on every trip, and gives a dollar value in petrol terms. So far the app has proven to cut petrol costs by between 13 percent and 23 percent.

This form of telematics is not completely new. However, most companies are concentrating on the adaptation of their products for the fleet ­market. Fleet cars are fitted with a black box and information is sent to a third party. GoFar can be used personally or adapted for fleet use.

The device can be adapted for insurance ­purposes in countries such as Britain where those electing to use telematics in their car have been offered discounts of about 25 percent. Young drivers, normally ­facing abnormally high premiums, have been able, through proof of good driving, to achieve ­substantial drops in premiums. Read more in a report by Adam Courtenay.


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