Researchers from IIT Mandi develop new eco innovation

Researchers from IIT Mandi have developed an innovative solution using pine needle as a substitute for biomass eventually help reduce the chances of forest fire and thereby bringing down pollution in the region, according to a Daily report. Due to its sustainability, the project has been supported by the Himachal Pradesh government, and it has announced a subsidy of 50%.

“The briquetting unit set up on our campus has the capacity of 150 kg per hour with a connected load of 12 HP. The cost of the unit is around Rs 5 lakh, after the subsidy, it can come down to Rs 2.5 Lakh,” Dr Arti Kashyap, Principal Project Investigator, Centre for Uplifting Himalayan Livelihood (UHL), was quoted as saying by the report.

Stating that due to its non-bio-degradable and highly-inflammable nature, pine needles are a significant threat to the environment, forest biodiversity and local economy in the entire Himalayan region, the report went on to add that the Centre for Innovative Technology for the Himalayan Region (CITHR), under the aegis of the Institute has invented a machine that produces briquettes and pellets from pine needles.

As per the report, the researchers believe that the machine would reduce the problem of forest fire and also reduce pollution. “For the past three years, we have been trying to find a solution to this problem. These briquettes provide more heat at a lower cost and are less harmful to the environment in comparison to firewood or coal. In many small and large industries, the briquettes can be used as fuel. It can also be used to cook food,” Dr Kashyap is quoted as saying by the report. In addition to the pine needle, the machine can be used for making briquettes of wood dust, sugarcane peels, rice straw, and wheat straw. Dry leaf biomass can also be used for making briquettes.

In the future, the centre hopes to use pellets as a fuel in the gasifier, where the substance will be directly turned into gas. “The main advantages of using biomass briquette based gasifier over fossil fuels are lower cost, renewability and biodegradability of biofuel. It’s safer than fossil fuels, and it emits lesser toxic gases as compared to fossil fuel. So, briquette based gasifier and briquette fuel can be a good replacement of fossil fuels, LPG or firewood,” Dr Kashyap concludes.

Indian Institute of Technology Mandi (IIT Mandi) is an autonomous engineering and technology university located in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. It is one of the eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India under The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 2011 which declares these eight IITs as well as the conversion of Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University to IIT. The Act was passed in the Lok Sabha on March 24, 2011, and by the Rajya Sabha on April 30,  2012.

IIT Mandi was mentored by IIT Roorkee, which hosted the first batch of students. IIT Mandi’s permanent campus (about 14 km from the historic city of Mandi) is functional and under construction along Uhl River (a tributary of River Beas) at Kamand, Mandi. The institute admits students into various B.Tech, MS, and PhD programs (as of 2016). Timothy A. Gonsalves joined as the first Director of IIT Mandi on 15 January 2010, and RC Sawhney served as the first Registrar of IIT Mandi.

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