A group of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur has been conferred with the ‘Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards 2020’ for developing a mechanism for generating electricity from wet clothes left under sunlight to dry, a spokesperson of the institute said on Monday. Another team from the institute was separately granted the same award for addressing the problem of energy conservation and thermal management in wearable and flexible electronic devices.
Congratulating the researchers, IIT Kharagpur Director Prof Virendra Tewari said, “We still have sectors which need sourcing and efficient management of clean energy to meet our augmented power requirements, even in the remote areas.” “The research works awarded have etched their mark in both frugal innovation and those expanding the technological edge in the area of energy management with direct community impact,” he said. The ‘Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Awards’ was instituted by the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institution (SRISTI), a voluntary organization.
SRISTI said that GYTI Award celebrates the spirit of student innovation in all the fields of engineering, science, technology and design through extremely affordable/frugal solution or the ones pushing the technological edge. The spokesperson said that Prof Suman Chakraborty, Prof Partha Saha and Dr Aditya Bandopadhyay from the Department of Mechanical Engineering have been awarded for their work – “Electrical power generation from wet textile”.
Prof Sunando Dasgupta and his team from the Department of Chemical Engineering have also been awarded for their work – “Smart, flexible, and multi-functional thermal and energy management systems for next-generation electronic devices”. The novelty of the first innovation, the nano- electricity generator, is in its frugal means instead of energy harvesting from complex resources, the spokesperson said.
The device has been tested in a remote village where around 50 wet clothes were left for drying by washermen. These clothes were connected to a commercial supercapacitor which discharged electricity of around 10 volt. This stored energy is enough to glow a white LED bulb for more than an hour. “The clothes we wear are made from cellulose-based textile which has a network of nano-channels. Ions in saline water can move through this interlace fibrous nano-scale network by capillary action inducing an electric potential in the process,” explained the researchers from the department of mechanical engineering.
The work has been published in Nano Letters, a high-impact journal in the field, and the innovation has been patented by them. The group led by Prof Sunando Dasgupta has been working in collaboration with Purdue University, USA, to address the problem of energy conservation and thermal management in wearable and flexible electronic devices, the spokesperson said.
They achieved this by leveraging the unique properties of ‘smart materials’ materials that sense and react to environmental conditions or stimuli such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, or magnetic signals – infused with graphene, a form of carbon. “The material harvests the biomechanical energy of the user while storing the same and converting it into thermal energy towards the power management of the devices,” Dasgupta said.