After eight months of pottering about in the lab, 22-year-old Nandan Kulkarni tasted sweet success when he managed to develop a technology that uses sugar bagasse – a waste product from sugar mills - to generate electricity.
“The technology does not require any costly resources,” said Kulkarni, a fourth year undergraduate student of the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B). “On an average day, sugar mills generate around 200 tonnes of bagasse and this can easily be used to generate part of the electricity that the mills require.”
Kulkarni’s project was one of the entries for a competition at Helios, the one-day technical festival of Department of Energy Science and Engineering at IIT-B that took place on March 18. Called GreenBiz, the event required participants to present sustainable energy technologies to experts. Thirty-five teams sent their entries for the event out of which 12 were short-listed. Kunal Upadhyay, who is a member of the incubation cell at the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad’s and chief executive officer of Infuse capital, was one of the judges for the event.
The judges were particularly impressed by Kulkarni’s technology, which he created with the help of his professors Sudarshan Kumar and Dinesh Sharma. They found it to be a practical idea. A few companies from Pune have already shown interest in the technology and Kulkarni hopes to obtain venture funding to roll out the business by the end of this year.
During Helios, students from the Department of Energy Science and Engineering’s Energy Club also conducted a mock United Nation conference to debate the Kyoto Protocol. Here, the teams were divided on the basis of countries and continents such as India, Africa, the European Union and China. “The teams presented their views on the role of developed nations in controlling carbon emissions and how developing nations cannot be pressurised to keep a check on their industrial policies,” said Anurag Bhide, one of the organisers of Helios.
The prime focus of the event was energy efficiency and sustainable energy. In keeping with this, the faculty and students also engaged in a debate on nuclear energy versus solar energy.
“We discussed the feasibility of both forms of energy at length. Since the government is facing stiff resistance to nuclear energy, we discussed how solar energy could be a useful investment in the long run,” said Rachit Shrivastava, a student from Department of Energy Science and Engineering.