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Amid ‘green cracker’ pitch, Rajasthan lab comes up with e-crackers

Scientists at the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI) in Pilani have recently developed four varieties of battery-fitted e-crackers, the electronic version of firecrackers.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2018 15:33 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Rakesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Supreme Court,E-Cracker,Air Pollution
CEERI Director said that e-cracker produces different illumination patterns and sounds and is reusable.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

A Centre-run laboratory in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district has developed e-crackers that produce the same light and sound as traditional firecrackers without emitting any of the hazardous smoke that spike air pollution.

Scientists at the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI) in Pilani have recently developed four varieties of battery-fitted e-crackers, the electronic version of firecrackers. The institute, which is under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has invited people to see its demonstration on the Pilani campus on November 4.

“The e-cracker produces different illumination patterns and sounds and is reusable. It uses a rechargeable battery and is absolutely safe and green,” CEERI director Santanu Chaudhury said.

“The e-crackers are a work in progress as we are working on different varieties and on a thermal simulation so that these crackers start when a fire source is brought near them. This is being done to give users an experience of lighting a cracker,” Chaudhury added.

The institute has developed an e-ladi, a string of crackers tied together to produce a continuous sound and illumination effect for some time. The traditional ladi is hazardous as some of the crackers often fly off the string while they are bursting and produce toxic smoke but the e-ladi is absolutely safe, said the CEERI director.

Chaudhury said they were in talks with some investors for scaling up the project.

This comes after the Supreme Court said last week that people across the country will get two hours between 8pm and 10pm to burst crackers during Diwali and made only the sale of “green and improved” fireworks mandatory at least in the national capital region (NCR) centred on New Delhi, in a ruling aimed at reducing air pollution that peaks in the festive season.

According to a 2017 affidavit to the top court and explanations offered by the country’s explosives regulator, green firecrackers would refer to products that do not contain metals such as barium, aluminium and iron which create toxic gases.

It also imposed stringent restrictions on the chemical materials that are used in firecrackers, hearing a 2015 plea by three toddlers filed through their parents who sought a complete ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of fireworks on account of the health risks they pose to citizens.

Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday that Indian scientists have been working to create an entire range of fireworks over the past year to bring down pollution during Diwali without disrupting the Rs 6,000-crore industry that supports around five lakh families.

He said that for the first time in India an emission testing facility has been established at Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI) in Tamil Nadu’s Karaikudi and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in Nagpur in Uttar Pradesh testing is in progress for both conventional and green crackers for monitoring emissions and sound.

CECRI researchers replaced aluminum, the primary heat source that produces the flash, with magnesium to reduce ignition temperature and minimise emission of particulate matter. The new product had less smoke and was less noisy. The particulate matter mission was reduced by 25% to 30%.

At NEERI, scientists developed three prototypes named SWAS (safe water releaser), SAFAL (safe minimum aluminum) and STAR (safe thermite cracker). The particulate matter was reduced by 30-35% in SWAS and 35-40% in SAFAL and STAR.

Cracker manufactures have reacted positively to the green crackers but would need approval from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), the nodal agency for safety requirements in the manufacture, storage, transport and use of all types of explosives and petroleum, before commercial production.

First Published: Nov 01, 2018 14:54 IST