Hackathon – Students from Bokaro and Dhanbad plan to fight air pollution

Two groups of students from Bokaro and Dhanbad, often referred to as the worst polluted city of the country, conceived ideas for mitigating air pollution that would get patronage for further development and validation for effective implementation over the next six months.

Their ideas were adjudged second and third best ideas offered at Air-O-Thon, a 48-hour non-stop hackathon, organised by the US Consulate, Calcutta, in association with Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneshwar in Calcutta last week.

Twenty teams working on as many ideas, shortlisted from among 100 ideas received from 7 states, participated in the hackathon that was overseen by a group of experts drawn from across the country.

While the idea of ​​industrial emission monitoring by Qualivon Technologies, a team from Berhampur, Odisha, was adjudged the best, another idea on developing indoor air purifier developed by a team from Bokaro was the second best and yet another focused on reducing particulate matter from vehicular exhaust developed by a group of students from IIT-ISM, Dhanbad was declared as the third best idea.

The US consulate and KIIT will help all the three winning teams to develop their ideas further and also validate those in three different states so that they can pursue those as applicable solutions to air pollution.

“We developed DAFS, an indoor air purifier that reduces concentration of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrous dioxide (NO2) in the air,” informed Om Sandilya of IIT-ISM, Dhanbad who teamed up with his childhood friends from Bokaro, Harshit Mania and Granth Gaurav who now study at KIIT, Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh University, Mohali respectively.

Their device will ensure double protection by purifying air pollution of both noxious gases and particulate matters, he further informed, adding they would now develop a workable prototype and obtain patent after the same is validated.

“Our idea, VpaC, is focused on reducing particulate matters from vehicular exhaust by using a device that would be attached to the tailpipe of a vehicle,” informed Aditya Singh Bhadauria who teamed up with Harshal Nahta and Aditya Singh Rathore, his fellow students at IIT-ISM, Dhanbad to develop the third best idea.

The device will function using self-powered V TENG (vibrator triboelectric nanogenerator) technology and help emit clean air through exhaust pipe, he explained, adding they would also aim at commercial exploitation of the idea after it was duly validated.

“We have implemented several public programmes to raise awareness and involve youth leaders in mitigating air pollution in the past,” Adrian Pratt, director of the American Centre in Calcutta, had said at the inauguration of the hackathon that aimed to find innovative, sustainable and implementable solutions to address air pollution problem in eastern and north-eastern parts of India.

“Hackathons are always an exciting space for collaboration, creativity and innovation,” Gloria Berbena, minister counsellor for public affairs at the US Embassy in New Delhi, said after declaring the names of the winning teams.

They held high-level talks with experts and policy makers who spoke about the need for technology-supported solutions to the problem to educate people and change their behaviour, she added.

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