A team of researchers from IIT Kharagpur has been honoured for developing a mechanism for generating electricity from wet clothes left to dry under sunlight, a spokesperson of the institute said on Monday, August 3.
The group was conferred with the 'Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards 2020', instituted by the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institution (SRISTI), a voluntary organization.
Meanwhile, another team from the institute was separately awarded for addressing the problem of energy conservation and thermal management in wearable and flexible electronic devices.
"We still have sectors which need sourcing and efficient management of clean energy to meet our augmented power requirements, even in the remote areas. The research works awarded have etched their mark in both frugal innovation and those expanding the technological edge in the area of energy management with direct community impact," IIT Kharagpur Director Prof Virendra Tewari was quoted as saying in a statement by the institute.
While Prof. Suman Chakraborty, Prof. Partha Saha and Dr. Aditya Bandopadhyay, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, have been awarded for their work "Electrical Power Generation from Wet Textile", Prof. Sunando Dasgupta and his team from the Department of Chemical Engineering, have been awarded for their work "Smart, Flexible, and Multi-Functional Thermal and Energy Management Systems for Next-Generation Electronic Devices."
According to SRISTI, the GYTI Award celebrates the spirit of student innovation in all the fields of engineering, science, technology and design through extremely affordable/frugal solution or the ones pushing the technological edge.
"The novelty of the first innovation, the nano-electricity generator, is in its frugal means instead of energy harvesting from complex resources," the college said.
The device has been tested in a remote village across a surface area of 3000 sq.m, where around 50 wet clothes were left for drying by washermen. These clothes were then connected to a commercial supercapacitor which discharged electricity of around 10 Volt in around 24 hours. This stored energy is enough to glow a white LED for more than 1 hour.
"The clothes we wear are made from cellulose-based textile which has a network of nano-channels. Ions in saline water can move through this interlace fibrous nano-scale network by capillary action inducing an electric potential in the process," the researchers explained.
"The economy of scale can be achieved by drying a set of regular wearable garments under the sun-light. This eventually culminates into a utilitarian paradigm of low-cost power harvesting in extreme rural settings," the college said.
The work has been published in Nano Letters, a high-impact journal in the field, and the innovation has been patented by them.
In order to address the problem of energy conservation and thermal management in wearable and flexible electronic devices, the group led by Prof. Sunando Dasgupta has been working with Purdue University, USA. They are achieving this by leveraging the unique properties of smart materials infused with graphene.
"The material harvests the biomechanical energy of the user while storing the same and converting it into thermal energy towards the power management of the devices. The initial prototypes have shown significant promise and are undergoing intense long-term testing," said Prof. Dasgupta.