Innovative use of science and technology to address the societal challenges
Shrirang R. Maddalwar
Rajiv Gandhi Biotechnology Centre, Nagpur
The use of science and technology for the betterment of life is one of the most precious tools given by nature to human beings. Out of millions of species in the nature, only human are those who can think and apply their knowledge to such a large extent. But at the same time when we humans move towards the betterment of society, several challenges also stand in front of us like global warming, lack of food security of the country, limited energy and fuel resources, lack of skillful human resource and as a result large unemployment. The scenarios about these disastrous problems are worse in developing countries like India. But we are not here to discuss those problems; we are here to discuss the alternatives for those problems.
We have cheapest, eco-friendly and very innovative alternatives for all those problems. Now, let’s see those innovations in details. Our first issue was global warming and lack of food security of the country. It can be big problem and with very less solutions, as concrete forests are increasing rapidly and their growth cannot be restricted as they are major part of development of the country. But we have found solution for it also. Soilless rooftop organic farming can solve this problem. Soilless rooftop farming is the concept regarding urban agriculture. Soil less medium includes coco peat, sawdust, wood wool; papers etc and blend it with renewable plant nutrients like vermin-compost and compost along with bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides. This growing media can be designed separately according to requirement of crop. It is cheap in cost, easily available, very much light in weight and maximum yield producing. So, by using this concept, global warming can also be restricted to some extent, food security of the country can also be assured, local waste will be well managed and most important is skilled employment will be generated. Health issues of the society like hazards of chemical fertilizers and pesticides will be avoided to large extent.
Now, let us come towards, our next problem, that is limited energy and fuel resources. We have very innovative and cheapest concept for it also. Few years ago, three Nigerian girls developed electricity from human urine. These girls did electrolysis of human urine and used the byproduct, hydrogen from it to power the generator. But the major drawbacks here were that hydrogen is explosive so it should be handled very carefully and second drawback was electrolysis of urine requires electricity. The first drawback was solved by them about explosive nature of hydrogen. They passed it through liquid borax and decrease the explosive tendency of the gas. But second drawback was still unsolved that from where one should bring the electricity for electrolysis.
This drawback was solved by us. The energy required to electrolyze urine is very low, i.e. near about 0.67 V, this voltage can be generated by microbial fuel cells. Microbial fuel cells are those gadgets, which produce electrical voltage from micro-organisms found in mud. This can be prepared very easily using simple two chambered electrolytic cell. In one chamber wet mud is added and anaerobic conditions are maintained and in another chamber simple common salt solution (NaCl) solution is added. Aerobic conditions are maintained in another chamber, by growing salt tolerant hydrophytes in it. Or at lower salt concentration, hydrophytes like hydra plants can also be used. Both the chambers can be connected by low cost salt bridge like cotton rope or agar. Electrodes can be made very cheaply by wrapping aluminum foil on glass rods. Hence, by using these cheaply available material microbial fuel cell can be constructed. This microbial fuel cell can supply required voltage for electrolysis of urine. Hence ultimately in any part of society electricity can be generated using human urine and wet mud only. It can be revolutionary innovation in a country like India. It will give rise to mini power stations in remote locality. At the same time, microbial fuel cells also produce biogas as byproduct of sludge digestion. Hence, it can also be provided to the society either through pipelines or CBG cylinders (compressed biogas cylinders). Hence energy and fuel problems of the society will also be solved at local levels.
These all innovations if applied in real life can change the entire scenario of the country and one day we will be recognized as self sustained country in the whole world. We can give the best, cheapest and eco-friendly technologies to whole world. The society is changing very rapidly; the decade of innovations is showing its strength at every extent of society. We are moving towards sustainable future very fast. This essay is my very punctual attempt to put my thoughts and innovations in front of society, so that it may benefit our country. It is my very small step towards the dream of sustainable India.