Inventions to save fuel and reduce environmental pollution

While some people talk about environmental protection sitting in air-conditioned rooms and others curse the government for the power crisis, a team of students of Pandian Saraswathi Yadav Engineering College and school dropout M. Abdul Razak have gone one step extra to find a solution.

An electrician by profession, Abdul Razak has come up with compressed sawdust sticks that can burn for up to two hours. He has also designed a plate with a handle to hold the sticks apart from a plate that collects the soot. “It burns like a gas stove. I use the resting panel of a kerosene stove.”

“Necessity compels me to invent something,” he says. “As LPG and kerosene have become dearer, people rely more on power supply for electric cooker and induction stoves. But again power crisis has left them in the lurch.”

People can use the sawdust sticks for cooking, explains Abdul Razak, though the flame at present cannot be made higher or lower as it can on conventional stoves. “I am working on it,” he says. “Instead of a plate, I am planning to have it on an adjustable stand.”

Depending on the size, each stick costs Rs.10 or Rs.20. The larger stick burns for the same time but gives a larger flame.

This man in his mid-forties has about 30 inventions to his credit. He has invented a two-in-one cooking vessel that not only saves fuel but also prepares rice in the traditional way. The cooker has a pipe that drains the rice water while on the other side it has provision for cooking curry. His major inventions are a method to make tyres nail-proof, a device to detect cracks on railway tracks, a double clutch accelerator for two-wheelers, a wireless cell phone charger, a jacket coated with beeswax that keeps soldiers warm and a motorised hand pump to draw water.

In a separate effort, a team of four students of Pandian Saraswathi Yadav Engineering College made the city proud by winning a prize at the Idea Contest organised by Larsen and Turbo, India Today and The Danish Cultural Institute. The award was presented at the 13th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.

B.Nambu Priya Dharshini, H. Allwyn James Raj, M.Ram Prasath and M.Vandhana Lakshmi under the guidance of R.T.Sakthidaran worked for three months on the project.

B.Nambu Priya Dharshini, team leader, explains what made the new system different from conventional air conditions that use chemical coolants, which pollute the atmosphere. “The proposed system uses the air cooled by combined effect of geo-thermal cooling and recycled water of household sewage system,” she says.

“The system has pipelines for carrying hot air from rooms, cool air to rooms, heat exchangers, earth pit, sand filling, household wastewater lines and storage tank,” says H. Allwyn James Raj.

“Household water can be recycled,” says M.Ram Prasath. “All we have to do is use a blower or an exhaust fan, some PVC pipes, a pit filled with gravel, charcoal, sand and a sand pit that filters the fat and protein content in the water.”

The space needed for the pits and the pipeline is half a cent, says M.Vandhana Lakshmi. “It brings down the room temperature to 25 degrees,” she says. “The extra filtered water can be utilised for other purposes like gardening.”

“This eco-friendly device should be developed with proper research,” says Sakthidaran. “We can considerably reduce power consumption as the device has one exhaust fan that functions with electricity.”

The competition was conducted in four categories – business, technology, urban development and design/culture.

“From India, 25,000 projects were submitted and we have won the first prize under the technology category for co-creating sustainable solutions for the future,” says S.P.Varadarajan, Managing Director of the college.

As part of the recognition, he says, the winners will visit Denmark for a period of two weeks in June. The Danish Cultural Institute will arrange the visit for the winners, who will also get an internship for higher studies in Denmark with scholarships.

Whether these grassroots inventions will be translated into a mass change for the benefit of the common man remains to be seen.