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4 Indian-American Teenagers Awarded for Inventions in Environmental Issues

The four teenagers are all finalists of this year's Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors

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environment
"The way I am trying to do that is by enhancing soil minerals that can bind up arsenic and make it inaccessible to rice plants," she told the American Bazaar. Pixabay

Four Indian American teenagers have been awarded $25,000 each for developing innovative approaches to address environmental issues.

The recipients of the award are Anjali Chadha (16) of Kentucky, Preeti Sai Krishnamani (17) of Delaware, Navami Jain (17) of North Carolina and Sai Preethi Mamidala (17) of Pennsylvania, the American Bazaar daily reported.

Chadha has built a device that is a sensor for detecting arsenic, a harmful substance known to cause cancer, in well water sources.

Currently a student at duPont Manual Magnet High School, Chadha was inspired to develop the sensor when she discovered that groundwater within 90 miles of her home was contaminated with arsenic.

It is estimated that some 50 million Americans use well water as their primary source and could be at risk for contamination.

environment
Her solution is silicon amendments – rice husk and rice husk ash – which are waste products of rice production and can be recycled into paddies to eventually combat arsenic contamination in the crop. Flickr

For Krishnamani, the goal was to combat arsenic contamination in rice.

“The way I am trying to do that is by enhancing soil minerals that can bind up arsenic and make it inaccessible to rice plants,” she told the American Bazaar.

Her solution is silicon amendments – rice husk and rice husk ash – which are waste products of rice production and can be recycled into paddies to eventually combat arsenic contamination in the crop.

Jain performed a series of evaluations looking at different ways to produce bio-ethanol, a type of bio-fuel that is considered greener to conventional fossil energy sources as it is biodegradable and non-toxic.

“The major controversy around ethanol production is that it is being produced from food-based crops like corn. I’m looking at ways to produce it from agricultural-based matter and different waste products such as wheat straw,” she said.

Her results indicated that producing bio-ethanol from wheat straw may increase efficiency and lower costs.

environment
It is estimated that some 50 million Americans use well water as their primary source and could be at risk for contamination. Pixabay

Driven by the effects of fossil-fuel pollution in India, Mamidala studied an optimal catalyst to make renewable energy more accessible.

 

ALSO READ: Experts Urging Users to Change their Facebook Passwords and Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

A senior at Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills, she examined the catalyst in “a fuel cell that can store energy while it is being produced and generate it when it is needed. The actual catalyst being used in the fuel cell makes a world of difference in its performance”.

The four teenagers are all finalists of this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. (IANS)

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Supreme Court Bans Pet Coke and Furnace Oil to bring down Air Pollution in NCR

India tops the list of biggest consumers of pet coke globally, which emits 11 per cent more greenhouse gases than coal. Consequently, India also records the highest number of deaths with pollution as its main cause

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Supreme Court
Industries employing pet coke and furnace oil emit large amounts of sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide that can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 25, 2017 : Environmental issues have been on the Supreme Court’s radar lately. After the crackers-ban on Diwali, the Supreme Court on Tuesday banned the use of two cheap but extremely polluting industrial fuels in and around New Delhi in an attempt to clean the air in the national capital region (NCR).

The Supreme Court banned the use of petroleum coke which is a dirtier alternative to coal, and furnace oil and has directed three states namely Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to notify the ban on immediate basis. The decision came after the Court was informed about the soaring pollution levels in NCR following Diwali due to toxic gas emissions by industries that rely heavily on petroleum coke (commonly called pet coke) and furnace oil.

However, this was not the first time that the two pollutants were banned.

Previously, the hazardous fuels had been banned in Delhi in 1996. However, despite court restrictions, their use continued in the NCR in brick kilns, cement factories, ceramics manufacturers and paper mills.

The new order comes after a government-appointed body, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) found high sulphur levels and recommended banning the two fuels to the court in April.

ALSO READ Was the Ban on Sale of Firecrackers in Delhi Successful? Data on Pollution Levels in Delhi Say Otherwise

On Tuesday, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice MB Lokur ordered for the ban to come into effect naturally from November 1 in case the government failed to notify the prohibit.

Why Did The Supreme Court Ban Pet Coke and Furnace Oil?

India tops the list of biggest consumers of pet coke globally, which emits 11 per cent more greenhouse gases than coal. Consequently, India also records the highest number of deaths with pollution as its main cause with 2.5 million Indians facing earth deaths in 2015, as per data by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health

For an easier comparison, petrol and diesel comprise of 50 PPM (parts per million) of the extremely dangerous sulphur.

On the other hand, pet coke has 69,000-74,000 PPM and furnace oil has 15,000- 23,000 ppm sulphur in its composition.

Industries employing these two fuels emit large amounts of sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide that can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems like asthma, and bronchitis.

Burning of pet coke also releases sulphur dioxide which is a known cause of several lung diseases and acid rain.

How Will The Ban Affect Industries?

The ban on pet coke and furnace oil is believed to imply heavy losses to the industries using these fuels; the worst hit will be numerous small and medium sized industries that employ thousands of workers.

“Furnace oil is used in estimated
50-60% industries. As an alternate,
we can use CNG but it will cost us
nearly 2-3 times more”
– Dinesh Mittal,
                                     President of Sahibabad Industrial Area, Site-IV, (as told to Hindustan Times)

Pet coke is known to deliver more per-unit energy in comparison to coal, and is also readily and cheaply available which is why small-sized industries depend heavily on them. The low costs make it an attractive offer for the buyers. Banning the fuels may further restrict their ability to expand operations and hire more staff.

The Central Pollution Control Board had submitted a draft on stipulated norms in June which only received attention and was uploaded on the ministry website in October.  The furious Supreme Court also pulled up on the Centre for being insensitive and for “sitting and doing nothing” about the growing pollution levels in the NCR.

The Supreme Court has now ordered for the governments of  Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to notify the ban and complete the exercise by December 31.