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Science Monitor: 12 September 2020

Science Monitor: 12 September 2020


1. International Day of Clean Air for Blue Sky


The world celebrated the first ever International day of clean air for blue sky on 7th September, 2020. This initiative of United Nation Environment Program acknowledges the ill effects of air pollution on our lives and our surrounding and aims to raise awareness at all levels to improve the air quality. In India, The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) also organised a webinar on the occasion and launched brochure on integrated measures to combat air pollution under the National Clean Air Program.

About the day:

  • Beholding blue sky is becoming rare now a days and the reason is air or the polluted air. It is the outcome of increased industrialisation, increased urbanisation, increased vehicular pollution and many other activities of ever-increasing human population that are being conducted either out of ignorance or by ignoring the environment. Therefore, UNGA had to pass a resolution last year to designate 7TH September as the International Day of Clean Air for Blu Sky.
  • The aim is to raise awareness at all levels to improve the air quality of the world so that everyone can have access to clean air. To observe the day in India, a webinar was organized by the MoEF under the leadership of Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.
  • The webinar was attended by the concerned representatives of all the States and UTs including the commissioners of 122 cities as identified in the National Clean Air Program (NCAP).The Union Minster advised the states to work on city specific plans to reduced pollution.
  • The participants discussed the roadmap to mitigate air pollution in 122 most polluted citiesunder NCAP which was launched in January last year. The Union Minister especially mentioned technical tools like Air Quality Index and SAMEER app to monitor air pollution level in various cities.
  • He also outlined policy decision taken in the last few years to take care of the air pollution like raising emission standards for industries, migration to BS-VI standards, construction of roads to overcome the problem of jams and special emphasis on electric vehicles. A brochure on integrated measures to combat air pollution was also launched under NCAP.
  • Adopting environment friendly practices and being to alternative solutions are the only measure that will keep our skies blue forever.

2. ARCI develops fast-charging lithium ion battery


Hyderabad based ARCI, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology is continuously working on different materials to develop high quality lithium ion batteries and to reduce the dependency on imported products. To realize this goal, the researchers of the institute have now developed an indigenous technology to synthesize lithium titanium oxide anode for fast charging lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles.


About the battery:

  • Fast charging lithium-ion batteries are in high demand for portable electronic devices and electric vehicles. However, import of lithium titanium oxide and anode material for high power LIBs application makes the batteries costly plus the complicated process of synthesizing this chemical makes things more difficult.
  • Now, researchers working at the Centre for Nano Materials of ARCI Hyderabad, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology have developed a simple method to produce LTO which can make the lithium-ion batteries less costly.
  • Lithium Titanium Oxide has emerged as a superior anode material for high power lithium ion batteries due to its thermal stability, excellent life cycle and safety. Using Titanium Dioxide and lithium carbonate as precursors, ARCI team has developed a simple economical, scalable and energy efficient technique for the production of LTO anodewith improved electronic conductivity.
  • LTO anodes exhibit recharge efficiency, exceeding 98 percent compared to the other carbon based anodes and have a lifecycle of 20,000 cycles. These can endure temperature ranging from -30 degrees to 55 degreescentigrade making them highly suitable for difficult weather conditions in India. The high energy milling method developed by ARCI, makes them more economical.
  • Although, the use of electric transport is being promoted to save the environment from pollution, yet there is a dearth of economically viable electric vehicles. The cost of such vehicles increases with high power and high-performance batteries.
  • The zeal of ARCI scientists to develop indigenous technologies for high capacity, fast charging and long-lasting batteries will definitely make electric vehicles economical in the future.

3. SCTIMST develops affordable Blood flow meter device


The procedure of open-heart surgery is not only complicated but also expensive, as it involves the use of various high-end medical devices. One such medical device is blood flow meter which is used to monitor the outcome of the surgery. Now, the Indian Scientists have developed an economical replacement of this device which is currently being imported at a very high cost.

          Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology,  Trivandrum (SCTIMST)

About the device:

  • In case of open-heart surgery, use of blood flow meter is essential. These devices are used to track the outcomes of the surgery, but usually they are imported, and each unit costs around 25 to 30 lakh rupees. So, only a few super speciality hospitals in India can afford these specialized devices.
  • Now presenting a solution, Thiruvananthapuram based Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology has developed a simple and cost-effective blood flow meter.
  • The palm size device can prove to be very useful. The device has an electronic measurement system and a disposable bio compatible tube fitted with electrodes which are kept over the magnetic field produced by the device. When the blood passes through the tube, under the influence of the magnetic field, a voltage is generated across the electrodes which is proportional to the rate of blood flow.
  • The novel method of the generation of magnetic field and the detection of the voltage gives the device better accuracy of measurements. The new medical device is portable and battery powered. This indigenous technology developed by the SCTI, MST scientists will bring the cost of the device under one lakh, making it highly affordable. This will also reduce the cost of open-heart surgery.
  • The institute has also transferred technology to a Cochin based company for a commercial production of the device and has also applied for a patent.

4. IIT- Delhi established an independent ‘School of Artificial Intelligence’

Context:Opinion | Artificial Intelligence cannot yet pass a high school math test

Artificial Intelligence involves the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think, act like humans. From simple personal assistance such as Alexa and Siri to complicated self-driving cars, Artificial Intelligence is clearly the future of mankind and recognizing the immense potential and need of this field, IIT Delhi has established an independent school of Artificial Intelligence in its campus.

About the School:

  • From autonomous vehicles, advanced diagnostic techniques to cybersecurity is entering every sector. It is believed that the future will see many more high-end applications of Artificial Intelligence. That is why nations are investing heavily in this technology to attain superiority. Therefore, IIT Delhi has set up an independent school of AI.
  • Through this school, the institute aims to provide better platform to pursue in-depth research in this field. The establishment of school of AI and IIT Delhi will help in preparing skilled AI practitioners in the country and will also attract talented people in this field who are currently working abroad.
  • The school will begin its PhD. program from January 2021, meanwhile, the institute is also planning the Post-Graduate level degree courses to be offered by the school.
  • In the future, the progress of nation will depend heavily on its AI capability. Nations leading in AI will also lead the world. Therefore, it becomes absolutely essential to bring together all the knowledge, resources and stakeholders on one platform to promote collaborations and to conduct in-depth research in this field. IIT Delhi aims to achieve all this besides providing specialized educational programs in AI.


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