Category Archives: Technology

Algae – A viable source of Biofuel

bio-fuel

Scientists around the world are experimenting with making cheaper alternative energies for our future, in a step further, a team of scientists at Michigan State University (MSU) has invented a new technology that will boost the research and production of algae-based bio-fuels.

The team’s invention —the environmental photobioreactor (ePBR system) — is the world’s first standard algae growing platform. The bioreactors are about the size of coffee makers and can induce changes in light, temperature, carbon dioxide, oxygen, evaporation, nutrient availability and more to simulates dynamic natural environments.

The ePBR system is like a pond in a jar that helps identify, cultivate, and test algal strains that have the potential to make the leap from lab to pond — proliferate in real-world, real-pond settings and produce the most oil.

Many scientists around the globe are looking for strains of algae that could become a sustainable source of alternative energy. Biggest problem they face is that algal strains that perform well in labs often down-perform in real environment.

Asia’s Largest Solar Power Plant in MP

The largest 130-MW Solar Power Plant of India Welspun Solar MP Project was launched at Bhagwanpur in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh on 26 February 2014. It is also the Asia’s Largest Solar Power Plant.

The Welspun Solar MP project was constructed at a cost of 1100 crore rupees on 305 hectares of land. It will supply power at 8.05 rupees a kWh. This Project will raise Indian solar capacity by 7 percent.

Welspun Energy Ltd. (WEL) is the biggest developer of solar photovoltaic projects of India. The energy arm of Welspun Group is an independent power producer with plans to build grid connected 750MW of solar power & 1 GW of wind power plants across India.

Solar Power in India

The Union Government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) in 2010. India currently has a grid-connected solar-power capacity of 2208 MW. The JNNSM aimed for India to reach an installed capacity of 20000 MW (or 20 gigawatts) of solar power by 2022.

The production cost of solar power in India has fallen by more than half in recent years, from 17 rupees per kilowatt-hour (kWh) three years ago to 7.50 rupees per kWh now. But these costs are still high compared to coal (2.50 rupees per kWh), nuclear (3 rupees per kWh) or natural gas (5.5 rupees per kWh).

India is mapping its potential for solar-energy production across the entire country on the basis of satellite imagery, in collaboration with the United States.

Nano-particle & Laser based new Meningitis test

chemist

A new silver-nano-particle and laser-based test has been developed by scientists at University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, UK) for the rapid diagnosis of bacterial meningitis. The test uses nanoparticles and lasers to fingerprint more than one bacterium at a time as quickly as possible, making it easier to treat.

The new process is called Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS). It scatters laser light from a sample that has been combined with silver nanoparticles.

The great advantage of the SERS technique is that it gives sharp, recognisable signals and with other diagnostic methods it can measure the amount of bacteria in a sample whilst simultaneously identifying the bacteria.

Meningitis

Meningitis is an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation’s proximity to the brain and spinal cord.

The most common symptoms of meningitis are headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, etc. Children often exhibit only nonspecific symptoms, such as irritability and drowsiness. Meningitis caused by meningococcal bacteria may be accompanied by a characteristic rash.

Akash missile test fired; Third time in a span of five days

Akash launch

For the third time in a span of five days, India successfully test-fired the indigenously developed surface-to-air missile Akash missile system from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha on February 26, 2014. Like the trials of the surface-to-air missile conducted on February 22 and 24, Wednesday’s test fire of Akash was successful.

These were part of a series of tests being conducted in various engagement modes from the first of Production Model system produced to equip two regiments of the Army. Earlier tests flights, destroying a target in receding floating mode, as well as the one destroying an approaching target, fully met the mission objectives, a senior defence scientist said.

Akash is India’s first indigenously designed, developed and produced air defence system missile capable of engaging aerial threats up to a distance of approximately 25 km. The multi-target, multi-directional, all-weather air-defence system consisting of surveillance and tracking radars is designed to enable integration with other air defence command and control networks through secured communication links.

Developed by DRDO, Akash is being produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) as the nodal production agency with the involvement of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and a large number of other industries.

Related Reading : Akash Missile Test-fired again

Astrosat Launch in 2015

sat

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Astrosat aboard a PSLV in 2015. The satellite would have six pieces of equipment built by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and it can be described as a multi wave length observatory in space. It will ensure a great contribution in astronomy from India.

Astrosat is envisaged to be a National Observatory which will be available for astronomical observations to any researcher in India. Although most of the observation time will be for the use of Indian researchers, a part of the Astrosat observation time will also be made available to International astronomical community on a competitive basis. The life of the satellite has been configured for a minimum period of 5 years.

Akash Missile Test-fired again

Akash launch

For a second time in a span of four days, Indian Army successfully test-fired the medium range, surface-to-air missile, Akash, from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha on Monday, 24th Feb 2014.

It engaged and destroyed a receding flying target at a distance of 19 km. The target was a tow body and supported by pilotless aircraft Lakshya. The missile was test-fired as part of pre-induction trials by the Army. According to DRDO, the mission went off fantastically as planned.

The DRDO officials called the Akash project “a great success story because it is going to be inducted in large numbers in the Army and the Air Force.” The Army and the Indian Air Force have already placed orders for Rs. 23,000 crore for the defence system.

Related Reading : Akash Missile Test-fired

Akash Missile Test-fired

Akash-missile

The Army on 21th Feb 2014 successfully flight-tested Akash, the medium range surface-to-air missile developed by the DRDO under IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program), from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha. The missile targeted a floating object supported by Lakshya-PTA (Pilotless Target Aircraft). It was a user-trial done by the Army, which turned out highly successful.

Akash has a strike range of 25 km and can carry a warhead of 60 kgs. It could be launched to engage and destroy fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and other targets. Supported by phased array Rajendra radar, which can track 64 targets, Akash missiles are guided towards their targets.

The warhead of the missile gets triggered by radio proximity fuze, while the onboard digital autopilot helps in stability and manoeuvring capability.

It uses high-energy solid propellant for the booster and ramjet propulsion for the sustainer phase. The ramjet propulsion system provides higher level of energy with minimum fuel mass, enable it to fly at supersonic speed reaching a maximum of 2.5 Mach.

It can be transported by rail, road and air; and it boasts of C4I, that is, command, control, communication, computers and intelligence. The entire system includes not only the missiles but the command and control system, the radars, the launch platforms and so on.

The last trial was conducted on June 6, 2012 from the same base.

Artificial Leaf for Hydrogen Fuel

artificial-leaves

Leaves harness the power of sunlight for photosynthesis, turning water into hydrogen and oxygen. Arizona State University scientists, along with colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory, have reported designing an artificial leaf that uses solar energy to convert water cheaply and efficiently into hydrogen and oxygen.

This process has two steps; the first step is fast one where light energy is converted to chemical energy, and the second step is slower one where the chemical energy is used to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The artificial leaf is not yet able to produce mass amounts of energy, but it is one step closer to producing sustainable and carbon-neutral fuels. This technology is important as it can sustainably harness the solar energy needed to meet the increasing demands of food, fuel and fiber.

Veteran chemist and head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, C.N.R. Rao, who was recently conferred the Bharat Ratna, is also working on similar technology of artificial photosynthesis to produce hydrogen fuel.

Hydogen as Fuel

Society is constantly searching for cheap, efficient and economical sources of energy. Hydrogen is one of the most apparent and reliable of these sources. It is an eco-friendly fuel, which can be created by breaking water down. But producing the fuel currently is not viable, more energy is needed to produce it than it gives back.

It is used to propel spacecraft, and is a potential fuel source for combustion engines and other vehicles, including commercial aircraft. Although hydrogen is abundant in our atmosphere, it is so light that it rises and is rarely found in its pure form.

[The study was published in the journal Nature Chemistry.]

Phase-II of Nano-Mission Approved

nano-technology

Nano Technology is a ‘knowledge-intensive & enabling technology’ which is expected to influence a wide range of products and processes with far-reaching implications for the national economy and development.

Nano-Science & Technology Initiative (NSTI)

To create the background and infrastructure for R&D in nano-science & technology, Nano-Science & Technology Initiative (NSTI) have been rolled out in the time period of 2001 to 2006 by Department of Science and Technology (DST). Across India, 19 Centres of Excellence have been established for research, development and applications of nanotechnology.

Nano-Science & Technology Mission (NSTM)

In 2007 DST started Nano-Science & Technology Mission (NSTM) with a budget of 1000 Cr. This ‘nano-mission’ has been working to help scientists, institutions and the industry in terms of promoting basic research, development of adequate manpower resources, international collaborations, augmentation the infrastructure for research and generation of socially useful products.

The nano-mission has resulted in about 5000 research papers and some useful products like nano hydrogel based eye drops, pesticide removal technology for drinking water, water filters for arsenic and fluoride removal and nano silver based antimicrobial textile coating.

Approval for the Second Phase of NSTM

The Union Cabinet on 20 Feb 2014 gave its clearance for the continuation of the NSTM in its second phase in the 12th plan period at a cost of Rs. 650 crores. Announcing the Cabinet decision, an official statement noted that as a result of the efforts led by the mission, India has moved from the fourth to the third position in the world in terms of scientific publications in nano-science and technology.

The Nano mission, in this new phase, will make greater effort to promote application-oriented R&D so that some useful products, processes and technologies also emerge. It will be steered by a ‘Nano Mission Council’ chaired by an eminent scientist.

Stem Cell Banking from Teeth

human_teeth

Stem cell banking from teeth is gaining popularity in India among the people with poor health history or suffering from genetic diseases. The major reason behind; people feel it less painful and the safest of all methods. With stem cells creating the new milestones for a secure future all around the world, the technique of collecting stem cells from teeth is picking up fast in India.

Tooth stem cells are so powerful and strong that they can even regenerate a new bone. Milk tooth and wisdom tooth are full of stem cells, which can be preserved for years. Dental stem cells have significant medical benefits in the development of new medical therapies, and can help people with newly generated organs and bones. Health problems which can be treated through these tooth stem cells include diabetes, visionary problems, kidney, and liver problems.

At present, the pulp is being collected by the dentist and is sent to stem cell banks in Mumbai or Chennai for preservation. As 95 per cent of health problems in any society or world are tissue-related, and only five per cent are blood diseases, these tooth stem cells are able to regenerate both soft and hard tissues.

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