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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A bamboo for global warming

Taiyebpura, a small village in Matar taluka of Kheda district, has become a centre of attraction for farmers, environmentalists and the forest officials of the Gujarat government. Taiyeb Mohammed Zamindar, an 80-year-old farmer of the village, has become an advisor to many other farmers.

All this has happened because of the bamboo plants that Zamindar had planted 15 months ago in 25 acres of land. Usually, bamboo grows in forests, but Zamindar has succeeded in achieving this feat in an area where major crops are wheat and paddy. Bamboo, as a farm crop, takes at least four to five years before it is ready for harvest. However, Zamindar's bamboo crop will be ready next year. This is considered record time considering the local climate and soil conditions. The bamboo variety planted in Taiyebpura is bambusa balcooa. It is a clumping bamboo of Indian origin. The main advantage (of bamboo farming) is that farmers need not worry about any damage to the crop. It is simple and needs only water and manure

The bamboo farming project was carried out under the guidance of Dr N Bharathi, who is advisor to the Central and state governments on bamboo. He is also an advisor to Gujarat Bamboo Mission, and MD Growmore Biotech Ltd Bangalore, which has been the force behind the farming of the plant in Taiyebpura.

Bamboo is a no-death plant. It is an answer to global warming, as it absorbs the highest amount of carbon. Its growth is fast because of the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere and this makes it good for the environment as well.

According to the India's National Bamboo Mission, the size of the domestic bamboo industry is about Rs 6,505 crore and it is estimated to grow to Rs 26,000 crore by 2015. However, despite it being a big domestic industry, India has failed to make a mark in the global market.

The world bamboo industry is worth 10 billion dollars of which China's share is nearly 50 per cent. The world market for bamboo is expected to reach about 20 billion dollars by 2015.

Ref: Kamran Sulaimani, Yahoo News, Jun 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sustainable power: India makes a beginning

In perhaps the first significant climate responsive project in South Asia, an abandoned thermal power plant has been converted into a mega solar power generating station. It’s quite likely the world’s only high carbon power unit being replaced by a zero-carbon one. It is poised to give a huge fillip to India’s renewable energy ambitions and marks the culmination of “solar man’’ S P Gon Chaudhuri’s dream. Six years ago, he won the Ashden award, popularly known as the Green Oscar.

The 2-MW project, under the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation (WBGEDC), is the first in solar sphere to cross the megawatt threshold. It has already catalysed commercial interest in solar power that has been shunned by private companies due to high capital investment and longer break-even period. At present, capital investment in a solar plant is Rs 15-18 crore per mega watt—four times that of thermal at Rs 4-5 crore/MW. The cost is expected to reduce by half and efficiency double when nanotechnology is integrated in solar cells in about five years.

The project, located in Jamuria, 20 km from Asansol and 210 km from Kolkata, is in the heart of India’s coal belt. The solar project comprises 9,000 crystalline type solar modules of 230 watt each. The plant will generate three million units of electricity a year, enough to light 2,000 rural or 500 urban households.

The facility will save seven lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide emission a day i.e. as much CO2 as 2 MW thermal projects emit daily. The unique project could help Bengal reclaim its pioneer status in the power sector after nearly a century. Way back in 1897, the country’s first hydel project of 600 KW was set up at Sidrapong in Darjeeling.

At present, half the project has been completed with the 4,500 solar modules generating 1.25-mw electricity. The WBGEDC is vetting proposals from several firms who have shown interest in setting up the other half of the project.

The DPSC Ltd. will buy power at Rs 5 per unit and the ministry of new and renewable energy resources will pay Rs 10 per unit as generation incentive. WBGEDC can earn a further 97 paise per unit through the sale of carbon credit that the project will accrue. Annual revenue is pegged at Rs 4.8 crore. The project is expected to play a crucial role in achieving the solar mission of 15,000 MW under the PM climate action plan. That is imperative with the Indian Planning Commission projecting a capacity addition of 6.5 lakh MW from thermal, nuclear, hydel and gas by 2030, leaving a deficit of 1.5 lakh MW that only solar energy can meet.

Ref: Subhro Niyogi, "It’s sunrise for solar industry:In World’s First, Defunct Bengal Thermal Plant Is Being Converted Into Solar Station", Times of India Mumbai, Jun 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Solar energy for Himalayas

A new lightweight, low cost, portable solar cooker called the SolSource 3-in-1 is poised to transform the health and prosperity of the Himalayan villages. The device can replace the traditional biomass-burning stove as a means for cooking and heating the home. It can also use its own excess thermal energy to generate enough electricity to light a home at night, charge cell phones and power other small devices. As the cooker's unique design targets specific local needs and materials, its manufacture and distribution could provide a new economic future for communities in transition from agricultural to manufacturing economies.

The satellite dish-shaped SolSource is developed by US-based nonprofit organisation 'One Earth Designs'. The reflective nomadic tent material, stretched across a bamboo frame, concentrates sunlight from a large area inward toward a focal point, where the user can place a pot stand for cooking, a thermoelectric device for generating electricity (at a lower cost than a photovoltaic panel), a heat module for heating the home, a solar water disinfector for treating drinking water or a thermal battery for cooking after dark. These interchangeable parts are each about the size of a laptop computer and the main platform is easily folded and disassembled for portability.

The SolSource generates enough heat at its focal point to bring a kettle of water to boil in about five to seven minutes – about the same amount of time as conventional gas stoves in homes throughout the developed world. While it is in use, the device generates heat to warm the home and can create and store about 15 watt-hours of electricity, enough to power the lights for about seven hours. This is adequate for the villagers' needs.

Although the villagers were already familiar with solar cook stoves introduced throughout the region via various government and NGO initiatives, these devices were not fulfilling the nomadic communities' unique needs. Many of these stoves are made from concrete and glass components, both of which are easily broken during distribution and everyday use. The rural communities lack the expertise and tools needed to repair broken devices. The stoves, which weigh about 95 kg, are not easily portable. Therefore they hinder the villagers' traditional lifestyle. The stoves are designed for cooking only, and the villagers rely on biomass burning to heat their homes, a need that accounts for most of the region's fuel use.

One Earth Designs is committed to helping rural Himalayan population achieve appropriate science and technology based solutions for living more sustainably.