These days 27-year- old Ashok Chouhan is working to use moonlight to light up the houses in remote areas, where electricity supply remains erratic or mostly absent.
He is not your usual scientist. Son of a school gardener from Harsola village in Mhow tehsil of Indore district, Chouhan couldn’t pursue his passion, electronics, due to the poor financial condition of his family.
But that didn’t stop him. After completing his graduation in arts in 2008, Chouhan on his own started to study electronics and explore how it could help him make a difference to the people in his village. His innovations may not be considered inventions or contributions to pure sciences, but they are pioneering concepts where he has used existing technology, modified the basic designs and applied them for solving pressing local problems at the village level.
“The children of my village couldn’t study properly as electricity was either erratic or mostly absent. I myself suffered because of this problem. So I studied basic electronics to come up with some solution. I designed a solar headlamp, which can be used by children to study at night.
During the day, the small solar panel on the cap stores electricity, which is used later. This concept was appreciated by MP Council of Science and Technology (MPCST), which also gave me a grant of Rs 1,500 for designing 15 such solar headlamps,” says Chouhan, who also won the Best Vigyan Pavilion Award in this year’s exhibition and best innovator award last year.
You may be wondering how it is possible to generate electricity through moonlight. Ask him and he replies, “It is quite simple. I use a large reflector that focuses moonbeams on a small area where I place a normal solar panel. This generates electricity, though 50 % less compared to day light. But these days I am working to improve the design to get maximum electricity. I hope I will be successful soon.”
A chance meeting over two years ago with industries minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, who also happens to be the minister for science and technology, brought him in contact with the MPCST. “One day he had come to tour our area. And he saw the Nano radio I had designed, which I used to listen to the cricket commentary.
It can be fitted into the ear like your normal Bluetooth. He liked it very much and invited me to Bhopal where he introduced me to MPCST,” says Chouhan, who has not get much practical help from any person or institution or state government to realise his dream of becoming a scientist. These days he is working as a temporary employee (electrician with monthly salary of Rs 5,500) in Army War College, Mhow.
Chouhan has also designed wind road stud, which can be used to power night blinkers on the roads that guide vehicles during night. “Wind road stud is half feet-high small wind mill that runs due to the wind on the roads, which is generated due to vehicles passing by. When vehicles pass by wind road stud, it moves its blades and generates electricity, which is stored and can power the night blinkers. Even the normal wind can move the blades,” he says.
Chouhan has also designed a LEDpowered mast light which can be powered by the battery of your mobile and has many applications in rural areas, where high mast lights are not generally available. “Many times there is power disruption during social functions like marriages. I designed a 30-watt LED mast light which can run on three mobile phone batteries for an hour and a 12-volt vehicle battery for over six hours. It can also run on normal electricity using an adapter,” he added.