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June 18, 2018
Proteins from the Moringa oleifera plant, a tree native to India can help effectively purify water in developing nations at a low cost, say scientists.
The plant commonly known as the drumstick tree is cultivated for food and natural oils, and the seeds are already used for a type of rudimentary water purification. However, this traditional means of purification leaves behind high amounts of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the seeds, allowing bacteria to regrow after just 24 hours. This leaves only a short window in which the water is drinkable.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US used sand and plant materials to create a cheap and effective water filtration medium, termed "f-sand."
F-sand was created by extracting the seed proteins from the Moringa oleifera plant, and adhering them to the surface of silica particles, the principal component of sand.
It kills microorganisms and reduces turbidity, adhering to particulate and organic matter. These undesirable contaminants and DOC can then be washed out, leaving the water clean for longer, and the f-sand ready for reuse.
According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services, the majority of whom live in developing nations. The Moringa oleifera plant tree is native to India and grows well in tropical and subtropical climates.
June 13, 2018
Continuing towards digitalization and moving towards becoming a cashless economy, the initiative of faster and more techno-advanced transactions in Indian Railways is being taken up, the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) has developed a mobile based application 'utsonmobile'. This application has the following features:
June 13, 2018 (New Delhi)
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed in March, 2018 between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Institut National de la Santeet de la RechercheMedicale (INSERM), France.
The MoU aims at cooperation in areas of common interest within the medical, life sciences and health research fields. Based on scientific excellence on both sides, the parties have agreed to have a specific focus upon:
Any other areas of mutual interest can be considered after discussions between the two sides.
The MoU will further strengthen relations between ICMR and INSERM within the framework of international scientific and technological cooperation in fields of mutual interest. The scientific excellence on two sides will help to successfully work on health research in specified areas.
June 04, 2018
India's first indigenous, long-range artillery gun "Dhanush" has passed its final test at Pokhran, paving the way for its induction into the Army, a senior official said on Friday.
Between June 2-6, fifty rounds of shells each were fired from six Dhanush guns, Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) Senior General Manager SK Singh told reporters in Jabalpur on Friday.
Dhanush, the first indigeous long range artllery gun
Dhanush is a 155mm x 45mm calibre artillery gun and is also called the "desi Bofors".
He said that the GCF got the Dhanush project in October 2011 and the first prototype was made in 2014. Later, 11 more prototypes were made from which 4,200 rounds were fired.
June 08, 2018 (Agara)
Agra students develop solar car to protect Taj Mahal from pollution.
A four-seater solar car that can attain a top speed of 30 kmph has been developed by students of an engineering college here to protect the Taj Mahal which, as per some reports, is slowly turning brownish-yellow due to rising air pollution in the city.
A four-seater solar car that can attain a top speed of 30 kmph has been developed by students of an engineering college here to protect the Taj Mahal which, as per some reports, is slowly turning brownish-yellow due to rising air pollution in the city. Priced at Rs 50,000, the car named 'Nexgen' has been created by students of ACE college of engineering and management, Agra using recycled and and scrap materials. However, the vehicle is sturdy enough to be used ion rural areas, Sanjay Garg, Chairman of the college told PTI.
With petrol and diesel vehicles contributing overwhelmingly to the city's already polluted skyline, the zero-fumes solar car can help clean up the air, Garg said. "Our solar car can help a lot in bringing down pollution levels. It can be used in the night as well as a battery has been provided," said Sanyam Agarwal, project director.
"India has enough sunlight round the year. It can be widely used even in rural areas," Agarwal added. The students said solar cars for one or two people have been developed abroad, but theirs can easily seat four. The maximum speed is 30 kmph, more than enough for cities like Agra with perpetual traffic snarls, the students said.
The operational costs and the maintenance expenses are low and the spare parts are easily available, they added. ?If solar cars become popular, our dependence on petrol and diesel will reduce and emissions will remain under control,? Akash Gupta, team leader said.
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June 11, 2018 (Bengaluru)
Two leading Indian scientific institutions have come together with a private partner to launch a new high tech device to ensure that the growing popularity of sanitary napkins do not end up becoming an environmental nightmare.
Called GreenDispo, the device has been designed in such that it will incinerate the sanitary napkins completely with minimal flue gas emission. It is estimated that 432 million pads are already been disposed off every month in the country and this is expected to grow multifold in the coming years.
Inappropriate handling of the used pads is already posing a major challenge as the pads grow harmful pathogens causing serious health and environmental hazards. In addition, blocking of drainage paths due to the disposed napkins is becoming a critical issue.
The new device combines the expertise of the Hyderabad-based International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy (ARCI) in the area of processing and shaping of ceramics, the knowledge of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute in flue gas emission control, and the skill of Secunderabad-based Sowbal Aerothermics in energy efficient designing and manufacturing.
Launching the product, NEERI Director, Rakesh Kumar, said the specially designed heaters of the device generated a temperature of more than 800 degrees Celsius, which helped in complete combustion of the used pad. It also had a secondary heating chamber with a temperature of 1050 degrees Celsius to take care of any hazardous emissions from the incinerator.
ARCI Director, Dr. G. Padmanabhan, noted that ARCI experts have designed special ceramic holders for the device to ensure that the heat is channelized most effectively. The concentration of heat to the pads not only provide reduced ignition time, higher peak temperature, increased life expectancy of the heater element and reduced power consumption.
Mr. V.V.S.Rao of Sowbal Aerothermics said that the device will be available with a power rating of 800 and 1,000 watts and a unit size of two to three cubic feet volume. It is a batch type incinerator suitable for use anywhere including rural areas, colleges, schools, hostels, offices and public places. It has been tested for emissions and reliability of performance through field trials under practical conditions. It will be marketed by Messrs Girl Care under the name of Pad Burn".
June 8, 2018
It is a silent change which has been occurring over the past one decade. The schemes launched to reverse the process of infamous ?brain drain? have finally started yielding results. The number of young scientists returning to do scientific research in India and taking up positions in research and academic institutions is steadily rising. The quality of research output of these returnees is also very high.
This was reflected in the data presented at the first joint conclave of India's top three science fellowships ? Ramanujan Fellowship of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and INSPIRE Faculty Fellowship of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) - which cover all major disciplines.
"It is a historic opportunity that Fellows of these three programmes are coming together for the first time. It is necessary for young scientists from diverse disciplines to interact and work together because new and significant problems occur at boundaries of disciplines," Prof Ashutosh Sharma, DST secretary, said while addressing the conclave. He announced that DST will fund new ideas and projects if fellows from the three programmes come together to work on projects to solve significant problems.
The Ramanujan Fellowship is meant for brilliant scientists from all over the world to take up scientific research positions in India. The Fellows could work in any of the scientific institutions and universities in the country. The value of the fellowship is Rs one lakh per month and each Fellow receives grant of Rs.7 lakh every year to attending conferences and other research expenses. From one fellow in 2006, the number has gone up to 40 in 2017.
Most of the scientists availing the fellowship are Indians coming from America. A survey of the Fellows has shown that 69.7% are given permanent positions in host institutions after two years of joining. Ramanujan Fellows have also published more papers and got more projects than scientists working in host institutions.
"The scheme has been able to achieve reverse brain drain and has produced quality research. It is helping in changing the landscape of Indian S & T and is supporting excellence in scientific research in the country", pointed out S S Kohli, advisor, SERB. Some Fellows have helped create new centres. For example, Dr Sandeep Shukla has set up Interdisciplinary Centre for Cyber Security and Cyber Defense of Critical Infrastructures at IIT Kanpur with an outlay of Rs.15.5 crore.
Dr Meenakshi Munshi, adviser, DBT, said the Ramalingaswami Re-entry Faculty Fellowship of DBT was meant to bring back Indian scientists working abroad so that they can pursue their research interests of national relevance. Since the scheme started in 2007, a total of 312 scientists have returned to India and of them 203 have been absorbed as faculty. They have published over 800 papers, developed 46 technologies and got 24 patents. A couple of startups have also been floated by the fellows.
The INSPIRE Faculty Scheme, started in 2011, has benefited over 1000 young scientists and over 450 have been absorbed as faculty in various institutions. "It is an attractive opportunity for young achievers for developing independent scientific profiles and launch themselves in fulfilling long-term careers. The scheme provides a research career opportunity for five years but not guarantee for a job after completion of this period," said Dr Umesh K Sharma of DST.
SERB Secretary Dr Rajiv Sharma said the fellowships have attracted a number of scientists and produced quality science. Dr L S Shashidhara of IISER Pune said "the conclave of young scientists has been designed to serve as a platform for mentorship and experience sharing and not just routine evaluation of fellows." The three-day conclave is being attended by young scientists, science managers, industry representatives and university vice chancellors. Chief Secretary of Rajasthan, Mr D B Gupta inaugurated the conclave.
June 10, 2018 (Bengaluru)
India in elite planet-spotting club
In an epic Indian discovery, a team from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, has spotted for the first time a distant planet six times bigger than Earth and revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away. Both the planet and the star have been named EPIC.
"With this discovery India has joined a handful of countries which have discovered planets around stars," PRL's parent Indian Space Research Organisation has announced. Significantly, the discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet.
EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team led by PRL's Abhijit Chakraborty. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236.
"The spectrograph is the first of its kind in the country which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star. Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the USA and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements," the space agency said on its website late on June 8.
The scientists observed the target over a time 420 days or about 1.5 years. They measured the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search or PARAS spectrograph integrated with the 1.2-metre telescope located at PRL's Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.
PRL, described as the cradle of space sciences in India, conducts fundamental research in a host of physical sciences including astronomy and space.
"Such a discovery is of importance for understanding the formation mechanism of such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets that are too close to the host star." The detection also adds to a sparse catalogue of 22 other confirmed exoplanet systems that have a mass and radius in this range, ISRO said.
Ice and iron planet
EPIC was found circling very close to the Sun-like star, going around it once in about 19.5 days and unlikely to be inhabitable because of its high surface temperature of around 600°C. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune. Its mass is about 27 times Earth's and six times that of Earth at radius. The scientists estimate that over 60% of its mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron.
Asked for his view, Jayant Murthy, senior professor of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, said Dr. Chakraborty's group is the only one in the country doing this important work and has spent several years in developing the facility. ?Over the next few years, I expect that they will be able to make further contributions to this exciting field of astronomy."
Dr. Murthy said, "The work done by Dr. Chakraborty and his collaborators is important in characterising the nature of the exoplanet and they were able to show that the candidate is a close to Saturn-size planet orbiting near its star. These planets are very unlike those in our own Solar System and understanding them will tell us more about how planetary systems are formed." However, he said, radial velocity observations as made in this case "are not, in general, discovery observations but [a] look at already known planetary systems for a better understanding of their nature."
June 5, 2018 (Hyderabad)
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Hyderabad (IIT) Hyderabad have developed novel methods to recycle citrus peel waste more efficiently.
Peel of citrus fruits, after extraction of fruit juice, has no commercial value. Peel extracts can be used to make a few specialty chemicals like limonene, but the process to do so is highly energy intensive and unviable.
The researchers at IIT have developed multiple ways to use citrus peel extract directly. For instance, pure extract can be used for recycling polystyrene waste. It is non-biodegradable waste but its life can be extended after recycling, and recycled polystyrene waste-based ultrathin fibres polystyrene fabric can be used for cleaning oil spills at household level as well as for large oil spills in industrial units or water bodies. It can also be used as a flexible insulator in building construction. Additionally, this fabric can be further converted into yarns for textile applications.
According to researchers the presence of limonene compound in citrus peel is responsible for polystyrene fabric formation.
Another use of citrus peel extract is for print transfer. Print transfer technique is basically used to directly transfer any pattern from one surface to another. The same can be applied to make artificial tattoos on human skin, as nail arts or even for printing various objects made up of wood, mica, paper, clothes, glass etc.
Once this citrus peel extract is allowed to sediment under gravity, it forms three layers. Top layer (oil type) can be further used again for polystyrene recycling while the second layer is nothing but cellulose particles which can be converted into carbon material upon heating in inert atmosphere and thus can be used as electrode for Lithium ion batteries. The bottom, water-like layer can be used as a natural solvent for biopolymers like gelatin, which, in turn, can be used to make nanofibers.
The research team has incubated a start-up company to commercialize the innovative processes. "We are in discussion with investors to develop small scale machines that can recycle polystyrene waste using citrus peel extract as the point of generation of waste itself.
We also plan to develop the market for kitchen towels and napkins for cleaning oil spills" Prof. Chandra Shekhar Sharma told India Science Wire. A pilot scale machine has already been developed with funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
The Prof Sharma, along with colleague Shital Yadav, has published results of the research in journal Polymer Bulletin and also filed for patents.