Innovation is an integral part of any vocation, engineering being a field that depends on it more than any other. With sustainability being the need of the hour, inventors in various fields of engineering are coming up with technology that minimize waste, maximize production and do it all in a clean, green way.
Here are some of the most creative engineering innovations of recent times that strive for sustainability:
1. Transparent Solar Cells
In 2014, Michigan State University developed solar cells that are completely transparent, like glass. Right off the bat, there was immense potential seen in this innovation. With solar cells like these, anything from glass windows to mobile phone and e-reader screens could be used to absorb solar energy. An MIT startup, called Ubiquitous Energy, is working on making this technology more accessible and bringing it to the market. Soon, large glass buildings could be built to be energy neutral, with the help of this technology.
2. Plastic Roads
In 2002, Professor Vasudevan, from Thiagarajar College of Engineering, used waste plastic to construct a road inside his college campus. He achieved this by mixing waste plastic with heated bitumen and then coating the mixture over stone. After the success of this experiment and the acquisition of the patent for this technology, the Indian Government made a public road in Chennai using it. Reports showed that after four years of use the road, in Jambulingam Street in Chennai, had undergone much less wear than conventionally built roads.
3. Biodiesel Convertor
Students from IIT Delhi made waves on Engineer’s Day 2018 by creating a decentralized biodiesel production unit that uses excess cooking oil to produce energy in the form of biodiesel. India being the highest producer of waste cooking oil, produces 9.2 million tonnes of it a year. Additionally, despite having potential as a biodiesel producer, India contributes only 0.1% to the global biodiesel production. This innovation could offer solutions to these issues whilst creating energy from waste materials, if the use of such converters were made prevalent in hotels, restaurants and other similar establishments.
4. Biodegradable Funeral Logs
Closer home NSHM Knowledge Campus Durgapur’s very own Yashwant Kumar created a machine that compresses cow dung into wood like logs in his third year of engineering. These logs are eco friendly and cost effective too replacing conventional firewood and electricity. This was selected for the AICTE Chhatra Vishwakarma Award and won the second place in innovation from Bengal.
At the end of the day it is the simple observations that make a big difference in science and engineering inventions. What helps is a good pedagogy from an educational institution that helps students look beyond the obvious. NSHM Knowledge Campus leads by this example. To know more about engineering at NSHM click here