GE Edison Challenge – Renewable Energy for India

6 November, 2009 at 14:49 1 comment

Raghotham in GE Edison Spotting reports on some of the student demonstrations at GE Edison Challenge 2009 in Bangalore (you cannot lure me to use the new name Reddy buggers). Here is a nice photo (of ‘Urjas’ or ‘Tech Innovas’) from IIT-Bombay (used B-word Thackerey morons) followed by clips from other finalists from IIT-Madras (get it?), SVCE, IIT-Kharagpur…

Srinath Ramakkrushnan and his IIT-Madras team who call themselves ‘Graminavitas’, are a lot more ambitious lot, proposing an integrated solution that spans rice de-husking in Natham, a 300-household village 60 km north of Chennai (with a de-husking machine he himself made after a two-year stay in Ujire in Karnataka) to building a micro-grid architecture that would partly use biogas produced from the husk to produce power to providing a workable public toilet system to improve rural sanitation to using the waste from the toilet to produce biogas to replace the need for LPG… phew.

Neha (chirpy 20-something Punjabi kudi in pink tees and blue jeans) and team from Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering are trying to produce electricity using local resources in a village in Tamil Nadu so they can have power supply round-the-clock, instead of just two hours a day. The ‘Energy Boosters’ chose Kaliyapettai village near Chennai, which has a textile mill nearby discharging industrial effluents. Neha and friends used the effluents as nutrients to grow algae on. Algae convert carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere into lipids, which are then converted into biodiesel to generate electricity in a diesel generator. The team grew algae in a tank and have sent in the oil they produced for analysis of its power potential. Neha says the oil produced in 5 days can power lighting for the village’s 600 families through the day, for an initial cost of as little as Rs. 1 lakh (or 2000$).

Shashikant Burnwal, Arnab Chatterjee and Ashim Sardar of IIT-Kharagpur have built a pot-in-pot storage system that helps store vegetables and cooked food at temperatures as low as 8 to 10 degree Celsius, using nothing more than two earthen pots and a fan picked up from the insides of a desktop computer. Refrigeration, with minimal electricity necessitated by global warming. They have also designed a home cooling system in which sunlight falls on a PVC roof and heats it up, causing airflow between low pressure and high pressure areas, cooling homes – again, no electricity used.

Are these ideas, and those of the other 15 teams, practical, scaleable and worth the trouble? Well, the judges went around grilling the participants on the economics, the scientific principles and technology and the novelty of the ideas. GE and the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology (through DSIR TEPP program) have already sweetened the deal. Each of the 18 finalist teams will take home Rs.20,000. In addition, GE will award the winning team, to be announced on Friday, Rs.5 lakh and a runner-up Rs. 1 lakh. And, to boot, the DST will consider funding their ideas so they can turn it into reality. While I feel that I have seen some if not all of these ideas during the days when there was only one TV channel in India (so the whole family watched just about everything from cheesy Mahabharatha to agricultural programs on biogas and mushroom farming), I suppose, there are some positives. Atleast it got some people thinking even if it is heavily incentivized.

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Entry filed under: BoP, Climate, Computers/ICT, Deesha, Energy, Health, India, News-Media, Poverty, Projects, Research, WebXP.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Optimum Nutrition  |  6 November, 2009 at 19:44

    Biomass is simply organic materials such as manure, corn and so on.



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