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.
Seeing the increasing demand for homes and power, Team Shunya, a collaboration of Rachana Sansad Academy of Architecture and Indian Institute of Bombay (IIT-B), has built a sustainable, cost-effective, energy-efficient, solar-powered house for the Indian middle class in urban areas.
Team Shunya students took up the task of developing a house which was not only technically precise, but practically feasible as well. This led to birth of H-Naught, a solar house built upon the Vedic system of Vaastu and some green technology to optimize a fully functional urban residence for a family of six.
Keeping in mind the ever-rising construction material rates, students gave the house a blend of the Indian architecture and used a pair of bamboos and gypsum in the prefabricated insulating panels. These serve the dual purpose of insulation and of providing structural strength. In this ultra-modern home, an automation system has also been designed to manage various appliances of the house and monitor comfort conditions. With these and many other features embedded in the powerhouse H-Naught, IIT-B aims to promote and popularize the use of solar energy. 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
A team of students from India recently won the US $60,000 grand prize at the Dell Social Innovation Challenge (DSIC 2013) for its project, Solar Conduction Dryer. The winning team comprised two Indian students, Shital Somani and Vaibhav Tidke from Mumbai.
Their project aims at addressing the 20-30 percent food spoilage rate for poor rural Indian farmers via cost-effective dehydrators powered by solar conduction. The innovation will enable farmers to keep more of their crops and sell dehydrated fruits and vegetables as another income source. Read more
Solar rays are penetrating deeper into our lives. Solar energy is making its presence felt in homes, appliances, transport services and the construction sector. Now the frontiers have extended beyond heating and lighting. Innovators are looking at taking the green and inexhaustible source of energy to areas undreamt of in the past. The energy generated from photovoltaic cells and films is now powering pumps, farm operations and crematoriums, guarding critical data stores and helping distillation and effluent plants.
The latest product to pop up on the solar scene is Solarator, a solar alternative to the mobile generator. Manufactured by HHV Solar, near Bangalore, Solarators could light up campsites, disaster sites or even construction sites with 2 kilowatts per hour (KWh) output and 600 watts input. The trailer-mounted Solarators were launched at the recently held Solarcon India 2012 in Bangalore.
According to HR Vasuki, general manager-operations, HHV Solar, it can be carried or airlifted to disaster sites and is a green source of power which can last for six hours. The photovoltaic panels mounted on the trailer convert sunlight into electricity without causing noise or air pollution. A fully sealed waterproof compartment at the bottom of the trailer houses all electronic and electrical components to prevent a short circuit. The generator’s two solar modules use mono crystalline silicon cells to generate 300 watt power each by converting sunlight into electricity.
The Solarator is compact enough for moving around and blossoms out with its solar panels catching sunlight at the site. It could even be a boon for relief and rescue operations, and for fire-fighting personnel as it could be connected to lights, pumps, surgery equipment or lifting machines. The unit is expected to cost Rs. 4 lakh. Read more on other solar energy innovations.