Indian experts get Oxford awards for arsenic poisoning research in Ganga-Brahmaputra delta | world news | Hindustan Times
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Indian experts get Oxford awards for arsenic poisoning research in Ganga-Brahmaputra delta

The team developed a unified experimental and theoretical approach to mitigate arsenic poisoning in the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta in north and northeast India.

world Updated: Jul 17, 2018 11:05 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
arsenic poisoning in the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta,Ganga-Brahmaputra delta,University of Oxford
In conjunction with the river Brahmputra, Ganga has created the world’s largest delta in the Sundarbans. A team comprising experts from the IIT-Kharagpur and the University of Oxford has been selected for an award for research-led innovation to mitigate arsenic poisoning in the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta. (Manoj Yadav/HT File Photo)

A team comprising experts from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur and the University of Oxford has been selected for an awardfor exceptional research-led innovation to mitigate arsenic poisoning in the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta in north and northeast India.

The innovation awards instituted by the university’s vice-chancellor include one for prominent Oxford-basedlinguist Aditi Lahiri, who was selected for the “inspiring leadership” award for developing a flexible approach to speech recognition.

The team that developed a unified experimental and theoretical approach to mitigate arsenic poisoning includes Oxford-based Ian Griffiths and Raka Mondal, and IIT-Kharagpur‘s Sirshendu De, Sourav Mondal and Krishnasri Venkata.

Griffiths developed a mathematical framework that, when applied to a new arsenic filtering technology developed by De and his colleagues, enables engineers to maintain current filters and deploy them in a cost-effective manner.

Describing the Ganga–Brahmaputra delta as a “global hotspot for arsenic groundwater contamination”, the university said naturally occurring arsenic concentrates in water drawn from deep wells create a major public health issue in West Bengal and Bangladesh.

De recently discovered a novel technology that uses naturally abundant laterite soil to filter arsenic. The technology has the potential to provide a global breakthrough, supplying clean water to the world, the university said.

To achieve this, however, a sound quantitative understanding of its performance is essential, and this can only be obtained through the development of mathematical models.

Griffiths developed a mathematical framework using homogenisation theory and asymptotic analysis that distils the complex process into a simple predictive tool, which predicts the two key features - how frequently filters must be replaced, and how the filters may be upscaled to serve, for example, a school or community.

The filters serve more than 5000 people and 40 community-scale filters are now being deployed. The mathematical tools provide the essential guidance needed for engineers to maintain current filters and deploy these new filters in a cost-effective manner.

As part of the model developed by Lahiri, a mobile phone language learning application was produced enabling second language learners to improve pronunciation. Words and sentences spoken into the app are analysed and specific feedback is given like a personal tutor to improve and correct mistakes.

Oxford vice-chancellor Louise Richardson said at the awards ceremony: “The range of projects, products and models featured are testament to the excellence of the innovation taking place across the university’s four divisions and there is clearly the potential to innovate even further in the future.

“As a university, we are committed to global leadership in knowledge exchange, innovation and entrepreneurship, ensuring our research, scholarship and teaching contribute to the good of the nation and the world.”

First Published: Jul 17, 2018 11:05 IST