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Science Monitor: 22 August 2020

Science Monitor: 22 August 2020

                                        

1. INDO-US virtual network for COVID-19

Context:

Indo-US Science and Technology forum (IUSSTF) announced a call for proposals for covid-19 Indo-US virtual networks in April 2020 to support the efforts of the medical and scientific community. Recently, the forum has announced the 8th bi-national teams that have been selected to harness the combined expertise of Indian and US S & T communities in many crucial areas related to the pandemic.

         

About the networks:

  • To find the effective and scientific solutions for the ever increasing challenges posed by the current pandemic. Eight national teams have been awarded under the Indo-US virtual network for covid-19.
  • The team will pursue cutting edge research and areas that include:
    • Anti-viral coatings
    • Immune modulation
    • Tracking SARS-CoV-2 in waste water
    • Disease detection mechanisms
    • Reverse genetics strategies and Drug repurposing
  • Indo-US S & T forum announced these awards and the teams consisting of leading researchers from top Indian and US Institutions.
  • These awards will allow Indian and US scientists engaged in covid related research to carry out joint research activities through the virtual mechanism leveraging existing infrastructure, resources and funding to address critical challenges related to the pandemic.
  • IUSSTF is an autonomous bilateral organization jointly funded by the Government of India and the USA to promote science, technology, engineering and innovation through substantive interaction among the government academia and industry of both the countries.

2. India’s first portable hospital structure

Context:

The collaboration of science institutes and start-ups have provided one more innovative solution to meet the increasing demands of healthcare infrastructure. Now Thiruvananthapuram based Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) and an incubated startup of IIT Madras have collaborated to develop the country’s first portable hospital. The hospital can be set up anywhere within a few hours. Though the startup is developed to meet the demands of covid-19, but it will also be an effective solution to address the needs of other disasters or crisis.

About the Hospital

  • The mortality rate of covid-19 has decreased in the country, but the infection has now reached the far-flung areas. In such a situation the increasing need for health facilities to treat serious patients of covid-19 can pose a major challenge.
  • In view of this SCTIMST, an autonomous institute under the department of S & T in collaboration with Modulus Housing a startup incubated by IIT Madras has come up with a solution of portable and foldable hospital units to treat covid-19 patients in local communities.
  • The microstructure called medicab is especially useful for the rural and remote areas. Medicab is the first hospital in the country to have a fully foldable and portable structure. A few people can assemble this durable structure to create a well equipped hospital in about two hours.
  • The portable hospital has all the essential facilities including ICU ward and isolation ward, as of now the portable units come in 200, 400 and 800 square feet size, which is sufficient to create a hospital of up to 30 beds.
  • The first portable hospital was set up in vayanad, Kerala and the second in Chennai. The structure can take a hospital to the patient and it can be customized to meet the needs of any crisis. The setup will also reduce the burden of the hospitals to a great extent and help in containment of the infection.

3. Smart Stone Dust Precipitator by CSIR-CEERI

Context:

Artisans in many states of India carve beautiful artefacts out of stone and earn their living but these artisans also suffer from a major occupational hazard called silicosis, which is basically a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust as the dust is generated in high amounts during the various steps of stone carving, so this disease has resulted in the deaths and disabilities of many skilled artisans. Now, to ease the problem of such artisans, the scientists at Pilani based CSIR’s Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute has developed a special stone dust precipitator.

About the Precipitator:

  • Stone carving or stone art is the main source of livelihood in many districts of Rajasthan, but it is also the cause of serious lung condition called silicosis. The tiny silica crystals reach the lungs along with the breath and get deposited in their delicate environment.
  • With time these particles block the passage of the lungs and give rise to severe breathing problems, as result every year hundreds of artisans die at a young age.
  • Central and state governments have been running various schemes to support the artisans affected by the disease, but there is strong need to find a solution that can solve this problem without affecting their livelihood.
  • Therefore, engineers at the Pilani based Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute of CSIR have developed a smart dust precipitator system to protect the lives of these craftsmen. The low maintenance system can save people from serious illnesses like silicosis.
  • The smart dust respirator system prepared by CEERI is an apt solution based on a very simple technology, the fully automatic system has a high power suction chamber to suck the dust generated during the process of cutting and carving, the dust reaches the store tank of the system and silica particles are separated from the air by dissolving them in water, the mixture of silica and water gets collected in the vessel kept below the system and silica precipitates after some time.
  • At the same time, the clean air is let out by an exhaust fan which acts like a cooler. The system also has power sockets for stone cutting equipment, the dust precipitator system starts working as soon as the artisan switches it on and provides a dust free environment.
  • The system developed by CEERI has also been field tested, as a test a number of systems have been installed at various stone workshops in sirohi district of Rajasthan, the use of this system can greatly reduce the risk of developing silicosis.
  • The institute is in talks with industries for commercial manufacturing of this system. Efforts are being made to make the use of smart stone dust precipitator system mandatory in the industry settings.

4. Akshay urja Diwas 2020

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Renewable energy refers to the clean energy harnessed from renewable source such as sunlight and wind. After witnessing the disastrous effects of fossil fuels, this energy has become vital once again to combat climate change and pollution without giving up our energy needs. Therefore, India celebrates 20th of August as Akshay urja Diwas or Renewable Energy Day to promote the use of clean energy.

About the Day:

  • India has a separate Ministry for New and Renewable Energy to look into research and technology development in this area. Along with this, education and awareness campaigns are also being run.
  • Akshay urja Diwas or Renewable Energy Day is also such an effort which was started in 2004, ever since the day celebrated on 20th of August to create awareness about the importance of new and renewable energy and to promote its use.
  • Under renewable energy, innovative research is being done the in the field of solar energy, wind energy and biofuels and these resources are being made user friendly.
  • These natural resources produce efficient energy without harming the environment. Currently, the installed capacity of renewable energy in India is more than 83 gigawatt, the target is to increase the installed capacity of renewable energy to about 200 gigawatt by 2022.
  • Besides, efforts also being made to reduce power consumption through power saving efforts, large solar parks have been established in the country and it has been made mandatory to install solar power plants in the government buildings.
  • In addition to this, biofuel plants have also been setup as an alternative energy source in order to minimize the use of fossil fuels, use of electric vehicles is being promoted under different schemes, at the rural level incentives are being provided to use solar street lights, solar irrigation pumps along with the use of solar energy and biofuels in homes.
  • In view of the deteriorating balance of the environment, it becomes very crucial to increase the use of renewable energy among the common people on a large scale, while fossil fuel resources are limited, renewable energy resources are sustainable and environment friendly.

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