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
Indian tech startup CarIQ Technologies has developed a wireless device to allow users keep a virtual eye on their chauffeurs. The device plugs into the data port of a car and serves as a sort of nanny cam for the driver, streaming information to the owner’s mobile phone.
According to CarIQ’s founder Sagar Apte, the product is particularly helpful for folks with drivers. Along with car’s location, CarIQ can share information about how the driver is driving, whether the car is being misused.
Similar devices are used in the U.S. to monitor teenagers’ driving habits. But CarIQ is targeting Indian customers that want to make sure that their car isn’t being taken for a joyride while they are having dinner or are on a holiday abroad.
The CarIQ, which looks like a chubby, white memory stick, is plugged into a data port below the steering wheel of a car. It uses a SIM card and GPS to track the vehicles location and also collects data on how it is being driven. All that information is uploaded to the Internet so users can keep track of their cars through their cell phones. So, if your driver is racing the car somewhere far away, the device will pinpoint where the car is, at what speed it is being driven and even whether it is being driven rashly, as the CarIQ monitors sudden stops and acceleration.
The CarIQ also alerts users to engine and battery problems or the need for a tune up. It can also help drivers get better gas mileage. Read more
Most schools in rural India can’t afford basic supplies like desks, and most of the students attending them can’t afford backpacks. To address this, Bombay-based nonprofit Aarambh worked with designers to come up with an ingenious solution that can transform old cardboard boxes into a convertible desk and school bag.
The result, Help Desk, folds quickly from one thing to the other; at the end of the day, a few simple moves turn the desk back into a bag to carry books home. The design ended up costing only about 20 cents to make since it’s made from used cardboard. The designers prototyped a few different variations to test with the students, looking for a solution that would be ergonomically correct as a desk and is also easy to build. So far, the final design has been given to 10,000 students at 600 schools.
The desk-bags don’t last forever, especially since cardboard doesn’t stand up well to the rain. But the team is working on developing a low-cost material that can be coated on the surface to help it repel water. Right now, they only last about six months to a year. But anytime they need to be replaced, it’s simple to make again. Read more
One of India’s largest consumer products company, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company, is planning to expand to the bottom of the pyramid in India. And to do this, it is thinking of creating an innovative refrigerator.
Only 20% of Indians have one. This covers 80% of the upper and middle classes in the large cities, and only 1% of village dwellers. There are villages without even a single refrigerator, and that have no electricity infrastructure either. To fill the gap, Godrej plans to develop a miniature refrigerator running on a long-life battery.
The company has invested in several US semiconductor companies developing the futuristic technology that could enable a miniaturized refrigerator like this to conquer the Indian market. Read more