India’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy focuses on sustainable growth and inclusive development. In pursuance of this, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is supporting scientific and technological developments to make lives of people better. This support has translated to numerous sustainable technologies. Some of these are reaching out to people, helping lives and livelihoods through clean energy, water, air as well agricultural devices to increase farmer’s income and ease their daily toil. We celebrate some of these technologies which have benefitted people in recent years.
1. Amrit water filter
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) has developed energy free, water purification systems for arsenic & iron removal using nanotechnology (AMRIT - Arsenic & other Minerals Removal by Indian Technology) with support from DST. AMRIT water filters installed in 750 locations in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka provide arsenic-free drinking water at a cost of less than 5 paise per litre to nearly 5 lakh people. Recently in West Bengal the Nano-material based Arsenic removing filter was installed as 19 community scale filters in schools and community areas at 14 villages of 10 Gram Panchayats of south 24 Parganas in west Bengal benefiting a population of approximately. 15,000. Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation had recommended the replication of the nanotechnology-based purifier in all states where drinking water is contaminated with arsenic.
2. Blue Silver Technology
The technology has made major impact by helping in developing products that remain fresh even when worn for long time, helping in controlling infection in patients and under medical settings and for developing safe to use plastics for water storage, etc. The technology won the National Award for the year 2016 for commercialization of indigenous technology by Technology Development Board, DST.
Nano Textile technology being marketed world over by Resil Chemicals , Bengaluru and was developed by Textile Engineering deoartment of IIT Delhi with an Industry under Nano Mission.
The technology is today patented in many countries including USA, UK, Australia, China and Thailand and is being used by 200 national and international brands in India and six other countries.
3. Solar Water and Space Heating Panels
Rural areas in Indian Himalayan Mountains are facing grave energy crisis and high dependence on fuel wood due to cold climate poses a potential threat to the ecology, health of household inmates and involve women drudgery in fuel wood and dung collection. A low cost solar water and space heating panel of locally available material by the local artisan (carpenter) has been designed and fabricated by Himalayan Research Group (HRG), Shimla, a Core Support Group of SEED, DST.
It has been installed in 35 remote villages / panchayats in six districts of Himachal Pradesh and 10 villages in Jammu & Kashmir and is benefitting people in these areas. The Solar panels are fabricated on wood frame, window glass available in local households with innovative carbon paint to absorb maximum sun energy for water and space heating.
The technology takes advantage of the fact that in high altitude sun is brighter and intense in winter than plains and at the same time at altitude boiling point of water is low. Water heating panel provide 100-120 liters water per day at maximum temp of 90 degree Celsius in a sunny day even in winter months. Space heating panel blow at a maximum of 65 degree centigrade and improve 12-15 degree centigrade temp of living space providing thermal comfort to the mountain people.
4. Rice de-husking machine
Rice De-husking machine developed by Vigyan Ashram, Pune, a Core Support Group of SEED, DST, helps to reduce the manual effort to separate husk from the rice. It can process 8 to 10 k.g. rice in an hour and is useful for brown rice production unit for domestic level manufacturing. . Rice can be processed multiple times as per the quality required. It is easy to operate and work on single phase connection, has low power consumption, maintaining cost and is useful for rice farmers, rural youth and women’s self-help groups. This technology is being used in tribal areas in Pune, Maharashtra and is creating around 20 social enterprises.
5. Shallow emitter silicon solar cell and modules process technology
A highly efficient silicon solar cell has been developed with support from DST. BHEL has taken up this technology for commercial usage and achieved an efficiency of 17% and then increased it to 18.75%. Best cell efficiency of 19.24% has been achieved with typical efficiency distribution of 19% for a few batches of solar cells.
This technology consists of lightly doped emitter by optimizing various process steps using new front metal contact pastes & shallow emitter, adopting standard manufacturing steps without any additional process steps.
6. Hybrid Solar-Biomass Power Plant
An indigenously developed solar biomass power plant developed with Solar Parabolic Trough Technology provides power evaluation to existing grid at Shive village in Maharashtra about 57 Km from Pune. Power evacuation is a critical function that allows generated power to be immediately evacuated from the WPP to the grid for distribution. The technology is a renewable energy based small scale distributed energy plants integrating solar & biomass for a 24x7 operation with a capability to dispatch power into the local grid for export of power. It is supported by the DST benefits the village population of 3500 or more than 500 households in further social development like schools and industry. The pilot scale facility at 200 kW which can be scaled-up to 3 MW.
The indigenously developed solar parabolic trough operates at medium temperature, is low cost and easy manufacture. It contains corrosion resistant, reflective, anti dust coatings. It is driven by direct steam generation and an organic rankine cycle.
7. JalKalp Water Filter
Jalkalp is an easy, inexpensive, sustainable and effective technique to treat water. The filter is capable of removing biological impurities from water such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and parasites, etc. besides turbidity, iron and arsenic. It is easy to operate and maintain with no periodic maintenance cost and filters upto 0.6 litres per minute without any energy input as it works under gravity. It results in 100% removal of coliforms, removal of iron up to 10 PPM, arsenic up to 265 PPB, and clears turbidity up to 50 Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU).
8. Passive Ambient Air Purifier System (PAARS)
The device basically works on the principle of passive removal of pollutants and wind generation for dilution of air pollutant. Air is passed through appropriate size filters where particulates are removed. Air free of particulates is then passed through media with plant which further helps in reducing gaseous pollutants in the air. Air generators can help in augmenting wind turbulence in near zone so that dilution takes place. At the outlet of the device, the air has some residual velocity. This velocity of air creates turbulence in the atmosphere which thereby helps bringing down the pollutant concentrations by the method of dispersion.
9. WAYU Design 1 & 2
National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), IIT Bombay, and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have come together to address the issue of air pollution at traffic junctions. A device known as ‘Wind augmentation and purifying unit (WAYU)’ to improve the air quality at urban intersections has been developed and integrated in a way that it can work with solar power.
This device works basically on two principles-- wind generation for dilution of air pollutants and active pollutants removal. It uses low speed wind generators, appropriate size filters for long operation cycle with reasonable efficiency and has an oxidizer unit for removal of Carbon-monoxide and Hydrocarbons including Volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The air is passed through the filters where the particulates are removed. The air generators without filter can help in augmenting wind turbulence in near zone so that dilution takes place (like in nature). In the next level where active pollutants are removed, filters and thermal system are used. The air is heated inside the specially designed with appropriate surface and retention time, within the thermal oxidisers where the carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, VOCs get converted to carbon dioxide. At the outlet of the device, the discharged air has some exit velocity. This velocity of air creates air mixing and turbulence in the atmosphere which thereby helps bringing down the pollutant concentrations by the method of dispersion.
In the second improved version a photo catalytic chamber is used consisting of 3 UV Lamps and activated carbon boxes arranged in layers holding TiO2 coated activated Carbon and perfectly shaped to allow maximum illumination of each and every particle with TiO2.
10. Eco-friendly toilets
A local organization in the village of Duttapur in Wardha district of Maharashtra has harnessed innovative technologies for developing ecofriendly toilets that are benefitting local people. Centre of Science for Villages (CSV), S&T NGO, a core support organization of SEED Division, Department of Science & Technology (DST), is empowering rural people with technologies for low cost eco-friendly toilets. These low water usage and clean toilets with local technology have brought widespread relief from the health hazard and shame of open defecation to people of Wardha, in Maharashtra. The ‘Wardha Model’ of toilet is a unique example of application of local technology developed keeping conditions of the place in mind. It requires minimum amount of water to clean a pan and also for the person to clean himself.
Besides, the toilets are low cost because it has no septic tanks (leach pits of faro-cement are used), seat is simple and cost effective. The pan has greater slope (45 Degree). There is no water seal in “Wardha Model” toilets because even the smallest water seal is of 15 mm and to clean it about 10 litres of water is required. Thus to save water flap seal has been introduced. Because of introduction of flap seal, flies do not enter the toilet and it does not smell. The gas generated in the pit escapes from the vent pipe. From the pan night soil moves directly in the leach pit. This feature saves lot of water. Water moves in the adjoining soil from the leach pit and night soil decomposes in to nutrient rich manure. The pathogenic microbes present in the night soil are not able to move more than one meter distance hence all the water bodies (Open well, tube well etc.), located 10 meters away from the toilet remain unaffected.
These technologies are all innovative solutions to local problems being implemented to overcome challenges that India faces today. Such technological solutions can go a long way to let the country awake to the new dawn of freedom.