MICROBUTOR

The Financial Express - - SPOTLIGHT -

What it is Elec­tric­ity-free equip­ment to tackle wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion

Who’s be­hind it Ganesh Bhere, Ashwin Pawade & Ash­wini Gaik­wad

OPEN DEFE­CA­TION is a mas­sive prob­lem in In­dia. As per a re­cent re­port by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) and Unicef, 597 mil­lion peo­ple prac­tice open defe­ca­tion in the coun­try. What fol­lows is mi­cro­bial con­tam­i­na­tion of wa­ter. As a re­sult, ap­prox­i­mately 1.5 mil­lion chil­dren die of di­ar­rhoea every year. Ad­di­tion­ally, wa­ter-borne dis­eases af­fect around 37 mil­lion peo­ple every year.

The only way to make sure wa­ter is safe for consumption is by test­ing its qual­ity and, if found du­bi­ous, pass­ing it through some ap­pro­pri­ate pu­rifi­ca­tion steps. Mi­cro­bial test­ing is con­ducted with the help of mi­cro-or­gan­isms like E.coli in an in­cu­ba­tor at 37-38 de­grees Cel­sius. Two vi­tal com­po­nents needed for this process are slides that con­tain nu­tri­ents for microbes to grow in and an in­cu­ba­tor that can main­tain the tem­per­a­ture at 37-38 de­grees Cel­sius. But elec­tric in­cu­ba­tors re­main out of reach for many vil­lages.

En­ter MicroButor, an elec­tric­i­tyfree, handy and low-cost in­cu­ba­tor, developed by 30-year-old Ganesh Bhere, who pur­sued his mas­ters in chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing from the In­sti­tute of Chem­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy, Mum­bai; 27-year-old Ashwin Pawade, who is a mas­ters in tech­nol­ogy and de­vel­op­ment from IIT Bom­bay; and 22-year-old Ash­wini Gaik­wad, a fi­nal-year stu­dent of chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing at Jond­hale Col­lege, Mum­bai. The three met in 2013 while work­ing on a project for Science for So­ci­ety, a re­search and de­vel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion.

MicroButor, one of the win­ners of the 2016 Young In­no­va­tors Chal­lenge Award by tech firm 3M In­dia and the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Indian In­dus­tries, uses a bat­tery that doesn’t need to be charged elec­tri­cally. All you need to do to charge it is dip it in hot wa­ter— eas­ily avail­able in ru­ral ar­eas—for 15 min­utes. Once charged, it re­leases heat in a con­trolled man­ner over a pe­riod of 48 hours. Main­te­nance-free and cost-ef­fec­tive, Mi­cro But or is easy to use and op­er­ate .“Tra­di­tional in­cu­ba­tors need elec­tric­ity, in­cur cap­i­tal­in­ten­sive costs ofR0.5-R1.25lakh and are not por­ta­ble. Hence, field-level test­ing is not pos­si­ble. How­ever, MicroButor can be used to in­cu­bate the slides by main­tain­ing a tem­per­a­ture of 37-38 de­grees Cel­sius for a pe­riod of 48 hours. It can be used in thou­sands of gram pan­chay­ats across In­dia,” says Bhere.

It was while do­ing re­search on wa­ter fil­tra­tion sys­tems for their project for Science for So­ci­ety that Bhere, Pawade and Gaik­wad—who all come from a ru­ral back­ground—re­alised that a lack of ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nol­ogy in ru­ral ar­eas in the coun­try is a ma­jor im­ped­i­ment in test­ing wa­ter qual­ity. They spoke to peo­ple at the ground level and iden­ti­fied the var­i­ous con­straints. Af­ter six months, MicroButor was born. Even though it’s still in the pro­to­type stage, it has given com­pa­ra­ble re­sults to elec­tri­cal in­cu­ba­tors un­der ex­ten­sive lab­o­ra­tory test­ing. Bhere says they plan to launch MicroButor in the com­mer­cial mar­ket soon. “Ac­cess to safe wa­ter is a right of every hu­man be­ing. Aware­ness among peo­ple is in­creas­ing, so we see tremen­dous po­ten­tial for the prod­uct. We are now work­ing on a mar­ket strat­egy,” he adds.

EVEN THOUGH THE PROD­UCT IS STILL IN THE PRO­TO­TYPE STAGE, IT HAS GIVEN COM­PA­RA­BLE RE­SULTS TO ELEC­TRI­CAL IN­CU­BA­TORS UN­DER EX­TEN­SIVE LAB­O­RA­TORY TEST­ING. THE TEAM NOW PLANS TO LAUNCH THE MICROBUTOR IN THE COM­MER­CIAL MAR­KET

(Left) The team with their prod­uct; and the bat­tery of MicroButor can be charged with hot wa­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.