Graphics: Suman Sutradhar
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Researchers from IIT Kharagpur have been conferred the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards 2020 have been awarded for their work in the area of energy efficiency. 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”. While Prof. Sunando Dasgupta and his team from the Department of Chemical Engineering, have been awarded for their work “Smart, Flexible, and Multi-Functional Thermal and Energy Management Systems for Next-Generation Electronic Devices.”
Congratulating the researchers, Director, Prof. Virendra Tewari said, “We still have sectors which need sourcing and efficient management of clean energy to meet our augmented power requirements be they in the remote areas or our automated way of life in the near future. It is essential that our researchers venture into avenues of generating clean energy in an unexampled way of sourcing and channelizing energy. 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.”
The novelty of the first innovation, the nano-electricity generator, is in its frugal means instead of energy harvesting from complex resources. The device has been tested in a remote village across a surface area of 3000 sq. m. Around 50 cloth items were put up for drying by washermen in the village. These clothes were connected to a commercial supercapacitor which discharged electricity of around 10 Volt in almost 24 hours. This stored energy is enough to glow a white LED for more than 1 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.
The economy of scale can be achieved by drying a set of regular wearable garments under the sun-light. This eventually culminates into a utilitarian paradigm of low-cost power harvesting in extreme rural settings. This innovation has already been patented by them and published in “Nano Letters”, a high-impact journal in the field.
The group led by Prof. Sunando Dasgupta has been working with Purdue University, USA to address the problem of energy conservation and thermal management in wearable and flexible electronic devices. They are achieving this by leveraging the unique properties of smart materials infused with graphene.
“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. The initial prototypes have shown significant promise and are undergoing intense long-term testing,” said Prof. Dasgupta.
The team is working towards consolidated thermal and energy management strategies for several existing systems, as well as electronic devices of the future, confirmed the researchers.
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