InfoDigger: A source of simple and sequential news


Biocompatible nanogenerators capable of harvesting electricity from selfpowered devices


Scientists have fabricated a simple, cost-effective, bio-compatible, transparent nanogenerator that can generate electricity from vibrations all around for use in optoelectronics, self-powered devices, and other biomedical applications.

Searching for renewable energy resources with reduced carbon emissions is one of the most urgent challenges due to the increasing threat of global warming and the energy crisis. Some of the unconventional methods to generate electricity include piezoelectric, thermoelectric, and electrostatic techniques used in devices like touch screens, electronic displays, and so forth.

The triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG) make use of mechanical energy in the form of vibrations present everywhere in different forms to generate electricity. The energy harvesting TENG works on the principle of creation of electrostatic charges via instantaneous physical contact of two dissimilar materials followed by generation of potential difference when a mismatch is introduced between the two contacted surfaces through a mechanical force. This mechanism drives the electrons to move back and forth between the conducting films coated on the back of the tribo layers. The method employed till date to design TENG use expensive fabrication methods like photolithography or reactive ion etching, and additional process like electrode preparation and so on.

Dr Shankar Rao and his team from the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences, Bengaluru, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, have designed a transparent TENG, using thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) either in the form of electrospun nanofibers or as a flat film using the simpler Doctor’s blade technique, along with Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as tribo layers. TPU nanofibers are obtained from the electrospinning (ES) technique. The Doctor’s blade technique, a routine procedure adapted in a variety of situations, squeezes the material through a blade and the substrate yielding a uniform thin layer. The easy availability of the active material and the simplicity of the fabrication process make it cost-effective over currently available fabrication techniques. The resulting device is also highly efficient, robust, and gives reproducible output over long hours of operation. The results were published in 'Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology'.

The fabricated device could light up eleven LEDs by gentle hand tapping and could be a potential candidate for use in optoelectronics, self-powered devices, and other biomedical applications.


Use, Disinfect, Reuse PPEs, Masks with Vajra Kavach


Corona warriors are fighting a huge battle against COVID every day armed with PPE kits, masks and gloves. All these protective covers need to be sanitised for extra safety.

A product aptly named Vajra Kavach removes the scourge of viral particles from equipment used by our Corona warriors. Yes, the disinfection system, developed by Mumbai-based startup Indra Water, removes any possible traces of the disease-causing SARS-Cov-2 virus from Personal Protective Equipment, N95 masks, coats, gloves and gowns. It thus enables reuse of PPEs and other materials used by healthcare workers. It thus protects not only them but our environment too, by helping reduce biomedical waste generation. It is also making personal protective equipment more available, affordable, and accessible.

"Your Material will get Disinfected in a few Minutes"

What makes this even more useful is that the disinfection is done in just a few minutes. The system is being manufactured at Indra Water's factory at Bhiwandi in Mumbai, from where it is delivered to hospitals.

Viral Load is reduced by One Lakh times

"Our system is able to achieve a 1,00,000-fold reduction in the number of microorganisms; in scientific terms, tests showed that we got 5 log (99.999 per cent) reduction of viruses and bacteria," informs a proud Abhijit VVR., one of the cofounders of Indra Water. 'Log reduction' is a term used to signify the relative number of living microbes that are eliminated after a process such as disinfection.

The validation and testing of the system was done by the Department of Biosciences & Bioengineering at IIT Bombay. "Vajra Kavach went through a very long trial and testing process. It was tested with Escherichia virus MS2 (a single-stranded RNA virus and a well-known surrogate of human respiratory viruses such as influenza virus and coronavirus) and E.coli strain C3000. Full loads of the virus and bacteria samples were placed on a PPE. The PPE was then placed inside the Vajra Kavach. After the disinfection cycle time, the PPE was removed and the sample was rechecked to assess the growth rate and log reduction of the virus." Abhijit informs that the system employs a multistage disinfection process consisting of advanced oxidation, corona discharge and UV-C light spectrum to inactivate the viruses, bacteria, and other microbial strains present on the PPE, achieving more than 99.999 per cent efficiency.

From Idea to Implementation

To implement the idea, Indra Water modified its water purification technology and came up with the totally indigenous disinfection system, says Abhijit. "Every component used in the manufacturing of this disinfection system is made in India. Nothing is procured from outside."

Healthcare Workers find it Very Useful, New Version on the Way

"Vajra Kavach’s UV disinfection of PPE is elegant, user friendly and convenient. The system is adequate for our 25-bed Covid Care Center. It will help us use fewer PPEs," says Doctor Nisha Shah, Chief Medical Officer, IIT Bombay Hospital. Mumbai’s Cama Hospital, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital, St. George Hospital are some other hospitals in Mumbai where Vajra Kavach disinfection system has been installed.

Indra Water is a 20-member startup whose core area is the treatment and disinfection of wastewater discharged from apartments, industry, factories, etc.


India takes crucial step towards self reliance in aeroengine technology


Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has established the near isothermal forging technology to produce all the five stages of high-pressure compressors (HPC) discs out of difficult-to-deform titanium alloy using its unique 2000 MT isothermal forge press.

The technology has been developed by the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL), a premier metallurgical laboratory of DRDO at Hyderabad. This is a crucial technology for establishing self-reliance in aeroengine technology.  With this development, India has joined the league of limited global engine developers to have the manufacturing capabilities of such critical aeroengine components. 

To meet the bulk production requirements, DMRL technology was transferred to M/s MIDHANI through a licensing agreement for technology transfer (LAToT). Using the isothermal forge press facility available at DMRL, Hyderabad, bulk quantity (200 numbers) of HPC disc forgings pertaining to various compressor stages have been jointly (DMRL and MIDHANI) produced and successfully supplied to HAL (E), Bengaluru for fitment into Adour Engine that powers the Jaguar/Hawk Aircrafts. 

In India, the Adour engine is overhauled by HAL (E), Bengaluru under a licensed manufacturing agreement with OEM. DMRL developed this forging technology by integrating various science and knowledge-based tools. The methodology adopted by DMRL is generic in nature and can be tuned to develop other similar aeroengine components. Apart from DMRL and HAL (E), various agencies such as MIDHANI, CEMILAC and DGAQA worked in unison to establish this crucial technology.


IIT Bombay comes up with ingenious solution to address oxygen shortage


With the spike in the number of COVID cases across the country, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has come up with a creative and ingenious solution to addressing the shortage of medical oxygen for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The pilot project which has been tested successfully relies on a simple technological hack: conversion of PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) Nitrogen Unit to PSA Oxygen Unit.

Initial tests done at IIT Bombay have shown promising results. Oxygen production could be achieved at 3.5 atm pressure, with a purity level of 93 per cent - 96 per cent. This gaseous oxygen can be utilised for COVID-related needs across existing hospitals and upcoming COVID-19 specific facilities by providing a continuous supply of oxygen.

How can the nitrogen unit be converted into an oxygen unit? "It has been done by fine-tuning the existing Nitrogen Plant setup and changing the molecular sieves from Carbon to Zeolite" says Prof Milind Atrey, Dean (R&D), IIT Bombay, who led the project.

"Such nitrogen plants, which take air from the atmosphere as raw material, are available in various industrial plants across India. Therefore, each of them could potentially be converted into an oxygen generator, thus helping us tide over the current public health emergency," he added.

The pilot project is a collaborative effort between IIT Bombay, Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers, Mumbai, who deal with PSA Nitrogen and Oxygen plant production.

A PSA Nitrogen plant in the Refrigeration and Cryogenics Laboratory of IIT was identified for conversion, to validate the proof of concept. To undertake this study on an urgent basis, an MoU was signed between IIT Bombay, Tata Consulting Engineers and Spantech Engineers to finalise an SOP that may be leveraged across the country.

Spantech Engineers installed the required plant components as a skid at IIT Bombay for evaluation using IIT Bombay's infrastructure at the IITB Nitrogen facility at the Refrigeration and Cryogenics lab. This setup for the experiment was developed within three days, and the initial tests have shown promising results, as mentioned above.

Prof Milind Atrey acknowledges and thanked Mr Amit Sharma, Managing Director, Tata Consulting Engineers; along with Mr Rajendra Tahiliani, Promoter, Spantech Engineers and alumnus IIT Bombay (1970); Mr Raj Mohan, MD, Spantech Engineers; and their passionate team members for their collaboration and partnership on this project.


India emerging as leader in Supercomputing


India is lately emerging as a leader in high power computing with the National Super Computing Mission (NSM) boosting it to meet the ever-increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups in fields like oil exploration, flood prediction as well as genomics and drug discovery.

Computing infrastructure has already been installed in four premier institutions of the country and installation work is in rapid progress in 9 more. MoUs have been signed with a total of 14 premier institutions of India for establishing Supercomputing Infrastructure with Assembly and Manufacturing in India. These include IITs, NITs, National Labs, and IISERs.

Infrastructure planned in NSM Phase I has already been installed and much of Phase II will be getting in place soon. Phase III, initiated this year, will take the computing speed to around 45 Petaflops. This will include three systems of 3 PF each and one system of 20PF as a national facility.

The National Supercomputing Mission was launched to enhance the research capacities and capabilities in the country by connecting them to form a Supercomputing grid, with National Knowledge Network (NKN) as the backbone. The Mission is being jointly steered by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and implemented by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune, and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

PARAM Shivay, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, was installed in IIT (BHU), followed by PARAM Shakti, PARAM Brahma, PARAM Yukti, PARAM Sanganak at IIT-Kharagpur IISER, Pune, JNCASR, Bengaluru and IIT Kanpur respectively.

A new dimension has now been added in India's journey towards leadership position in supercomputing with the convergence of HPC and Artificial Intelligence (AI). A 200 AI PF Artificial Intelligence supercomputing system has been created and installed in C-DAC, which can handle incredibly large-scale AI workloads increasing the speed of computing-related to AI several times. PARAM Siddhi - AI, the high-performance computing-artificial intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer, has achieved a global ranking of 62 in the TOP 500 most powerful supercomputer systems in the world, released on 16th November 2020.

The mission has also led to the creation of the next generation of supercomputer experts by training more than 4500 HPC aware manpower and faculties till date. To expand the activities of the HPC training, four NSM Nodal Centres for training in HPC and AI have been established at IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, IIT Goa and IIT Palakkad. These centres have conducted online training programs in HPC and in AI.

#MinistryofScienceandTechnology #Supercomputing

Self propelled railway track scavenging vehicle arrives to replace manual scavenging


A self-propelled railway track scavenging vehicle may soon replace manual scavenging and cleaning which is still practised to remove human waste lying on railway tracks.

Despite the ban on manual scavenging since 1993 in our country, people are seen removing excreta on the tracks with brooms and metal plates. Once the garbage is picked up from the tracks, night soil, excessive dirt, oil and other foreign materials are ineffectively cleaned with high-pressure water jets.

Dr Sharad K Pradhan, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical EngineeringNational Institute of Technical Teachers' Training and Research (NITTTR), Bhopal, has developed a Multifunctional Railway Track Scavenging Vehicle with support from the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies programme of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India aligned with the 'Make in India' initiative. A national patent has been published for this technology.

How does it work?

  1. This self-propelled Road cum Rail vehicle equipped with dry and wet suction systems, air and water spraying nozzles, control system, and road cum rail attachment is multifunctional and easy to operate.
  2. A display unit is provided for real-time control of the cleaning in a drastically changing environment.
  3. It requires only one person along with a driver to carry out the automatic cleaning of the railway track.
  4. Once the dry and wet suction is done, the water nozzles start spraying water jets to clear off any human waste or semi-solid garbage present on the track floor.
  5. Another set of nozzles spray disinfectants on the track to get rid of flies, rats, and other insects.
  6. Water jets completely remove the human waste and other wet garbage from the interrail space zone.
  7. Both dry and wet garbage is collected in different tanks, and once filled, it can be decanted at the appropriate local municipal garbage collection point.
  8. A joystick-controlled telescoping suction pipe is fitted to clear the slurry from the trench parallel to the track. The telescoping suction pipe can easily be placed at the appropriate position in the side trench to suck the sewage slurry.
  9. As this is a rail cum road vehicle, it can be used as a material/ garbage transport vehicle from track to the road by Indian railways.
  10. It can also be used as a maintenance/inspection vehicle and disinfectant spraying vehicle by Indian railways.
  11. In non-scavenging mode, it can also be used as a transportation and inspection vehicle by Indian Railways.

After successful development and testing, the developed vehicle can be adopted by Indian Railways as a scavenging vehicle for all of its stations.

The developed vehicle having low maintenance cost, compact size, reverse and forward movement, and continuous and intermittent action, make it better and effective as compared to existing research endeavours. After pilot testing, the manufacturing industry can be associated along with Dr Sharad K Pradhan to produce its commercial version on a mass scale.


Women led startup develops deep tech for reliable low cost internet to rural areas


Astrome, a women-led startup, has developed an innovative wireless product that gives fibre-like bandwidth at fraction of the cost of fibre to help telecom operators deliver reliable low-cost internet services to suburban and rural areas.

Reaching internet access to remote places in countries like India is difficult because laying fibre is too expensive. There is a need for wireless backhaul products that can deliver low cost, high data capacity, and wide reach. Currently available, wireless backhaul products either do not provide sufficient data speeds or the required range or are very expensive to deploy.

The wireless product called Giga Mesh could enable telecom operators deploy quality, high-speed rural telecom infrastructure at 5 times lower cost. Rural connectivity customers and defence customers who have already signed up for pilots will soon witness the demonstration of this product by Astrome.

The deep tech startup incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and supported by DST-ABI Woman Startup Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India proved their millimeter-wave multi-beam technology in the lab in 2018, for which the company has been granted a patent in India and US. Since then, the technology has been converted to a powerful and scalable product called Giga Mesh, which can solve much of the last mile connectivity telecom needs of our country. The product has been proven on the field and also integrated with partner products for its upcoming commercialization.

#IISc #Astrome

Innovative technologies emerge to address water related problems


Innovative technologies by an IIT Kharagpur-based center of technological excellence focusing on water purification have helped deliver clean and safe drinking water and also manage floods in several states across the country.

An efficient, low-cost, nano-filtration-based technology by The Centre for Technological Excellence in Water Purification (CTEWP) housed in IIT Kharagpur has ensured access to safe and clean drinking water free of heavy metals for 25,000 people in three different locations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, a release issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology informed.

The prototype of the highly compact vertical modular nanofiltration membrane system designed for removal of heavy metals from the groundwater was developed by the Membrane Separations Laboratory, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), with support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Water Technology Initiative (WTI). With a capacity of 100 - 300 Litre per hour(L/h), the system based on a membrane technically called hydrophilized polyamide membrane removes heavy metals such as Iron from groundwater. It consists of pumps that force water first through a prefilter assembly to remove suspended solids, colour, and odour and then spiral wound membrane modules that separate heavy metals. It gives purified permeate of reasonable total dissolved solids (TDS) devoid of contaminants such as Iron, Arsenic, or excess hardness. Ultraviolet light is provided at the end to disinfect any pathogens that may be present in the tank or pipelines.

Students of Lathiabagicha Primary School in North Guwahati, Assam, had to drink water that was highly contaminated with Iron, high COD and emanated a foul smell. Now with access to clean drinking water from a water treatment plant (300 L/h) developed by IIT Guwahati installed in the school, the students are relieved. This plant was designed and fabricated based on chemical less electrocoagulation technique. Supported by DST, it is capable of treating Total Soluble Solvent (TSS), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Iron and Arsenic from contaminated drinking water to below BIS limit. Over 120 students of the school, as well as the villagers of Lathiabagicha (more than 500), are now assured that quenching their thirst will not affect their health. The treated water is also used for cooking mid-day meals in the school.

The CSIR-IICT's team has also developed a simple, inexpensive, hand pump operated hollow fibre ultrafiltration system that is easy to operate, has high mobility, occupies less space, and is lightweight. The technology supported by DST was based on membranes called polyethersulfone hollow fibres. The pressure generated by the hand pump to transport floodwater into the membrane module provides a driving force to facilitate the permeation of clarified and disinfected water through the porous membrane, while a small chlorine cartridge installed at the membrane outlet leaches free chlorine to tackle any secondary contamination. A total of 24 water plants were installed during recent floods in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal to provide clean and safe drinking water to 50,000 people.

The solutions by the centre for water-related problems ranging from contamination by heavy metals to flood-related water problems would comprehensively help in tackling health and disaster management challenges.


High resolution platform developed to detect effect of prolonged alcohol exposure on RBCs


Scientists have custom-made a platform to detect the effect of prolonged alcohol exposure on Red Blood Cells (RBC) through high-resolution measurements of their size.

The high-resolution platform that shows the reduction in the size of RBCs on alcohol exposure can be tuned for a point-of-care screening of multiple conditions that alter the size and count of RBCs in the blood.

Although it is known that alcohol affects RBCs, the exact physiological changes are very subtle and difficult to measure. In order to overcome this challenge, scientists from Raman Research Institute (RRI), an autonomous institution funded by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India led by Professor Gautam Soni, have developed a custom-made electro-fluidic platform that can detect the change by measuring the cell size in enhanced resolution.

The device made in RRI relies on the resistive pulse sensing principle. The team first developed techniques for making tiny micron (1/1000th of a millimetre) sized holes or micro-pores at the tip of a glass capillary with careful fabrication, flame polishing, and image verification. Cells passing through the pore created very tiny electrical pulses, which give direct and most sensitive information of cell count and volume. These results may also be used to explain the lack of oxygen-carrying capability of RBC under alcohol exposure leading to blurred vision, muscular incoordination, and altered mental states from alcohol abuse. 

This research work, recently published in ACS Sensors journal of the American Chemical Societywas carried out by researchers Saurabh Kaushik, Manohara M., and K.D Murugan under the guidance of Dr Soni and Dr V. Sundaramurthy from National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore.

"Our lab had been working on building nanofluidic single-molecule detectors for the last few years. We found that some of the ideas used in the nanofluidic field may also be used in microfluidics in general and cell-biology in particular. We were pleasantly surprised with the reproducibility and resolution of our devices," said Professor Soni. Cell volume changes are an important biomarker for multiple diseases, especially blood-related conditions. Accurate measurement of volume changes of RBCs has applications in detection as well as mechanistic studies of diseases such as sickle cell anemia and malaria. Similarly, small volume changes of RBCs could also be indicators of malnutrition states in a cell. With this work, the RRI team envisages that the high-resolution platform can be tuned for a point-of-care screening of several other blood-related conditions.


DRDO conducts successful flight test of SFDR


Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully carried out a flight demonstration based on Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology from Integrated Test Range Chandipur off the coast of Odisha at around 10.30 am today.

All the subsystems, including the booster motor and nozzle-less motor, performed as expected. During the test, many new technologies were proven, including Solid Fuel based Ducted Ramjet technology, a release issued by the Ministry of Defence informed.

Successful demonstration of Solid Fuel based Ducted Ramjet technology has provided DRDO with a technological advantage that will enable it to develop long-range air-to-air missiles. Currently, such technology is available only in a handful of countries in the world. During the test, the air-launch scenario was simulated using a booster motor. Subsequently, the nozzle-less booster accelerated it to the required Mach number for Ramjet operation.

The performance of the missile was monitored using the data captured by Electro-Optical, Radar and Telemetry instruments deployed by ITR and confirmed successful demonstration of the mission objectives. The launch was monitored by senior scientists of various DRDO labs, including Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory(HEMRL).

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the scientists of DRDO, the Indian Air Force and the Industry on the successful flight test of SFDR.

#DRDO #Odisha