Turning e-waste to electricity: IIT Madras innovation waits for takers

Students  at IIT, Madras have come up with a novel technique where e-waste can be used as a resource not only to treat waste water but also to generate electricity simultaneously, making it an important innovation to deal with fast growing

NEW DELHI: Students at IIT, Madras have come up with a novel technique where e-waste can be used as a resource not only to treat waste water but also to generate electricity simultaneously, making it an important innovation to deal with fast growing menace of such hazardous waste in the country.

Under this technique, students  use e-waste component like “LED\LCD (liquid crystal coated polaroid) glass” as an electrode material in ‘Microbial Fuel Cells’ (MFCs) which is primarily a technology used for only waste water treatment. Use of e-waste as an electrode, however, helps it to generate electricity and recover metals for reuse.

“The basic concept that we use in this study is ‘use of waste to treat waste’. The MFC is a pollution free process. It considerably reduces the organic waste treatment cost by producing electrical energy without combustion of fossil fuels”, said a joint paper of the IIT, Madras scientists, Praveena Gangadharan and Indumathi M Nambi.

Gangadharan has developed this technique under the guidance of Indumathi Nambi, associate professor in the department of civil engineering at IIT, Madras.

Technologies available in the country at present are generally meant for only recovering and recycling components like glass, plastic, printed circuit board, hard drives, batteries and valuable metals. But this new technology, the scientists claim, can use LED\LCD glass component of e-waste for the twin jobs — waste water treatment and electricity production.

Though the students  had invented it over two years ago with financial support of science & technology and HRD ministries, it could not move out of the lab despite being recognised through award during innovation festival at Rashtrapati Bhavan here in March, 2015.

Unable to find any taker of this technology at this stage, the IIT Madras is now planning to approach the Technology Development Board (TDB) of the science & technology ministry. The Board was constituted in September 1996 as a statutory body to promote development and commercialization of indigenous technology and adaptation of imported technology for wider application.

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