Friday, 30 August 2013

Engineer's plastic-to-fuel device passes patent office tests

Engineer's plastic-to-fuel device passes patent office tests

CHENNAI: Is necessity the mother of invention? Well, not always. Determined to find a cheap and sustainable fuel, engineer Chitra Thiyagarajan developed a unit that converts plastic waste into a fuel similar to diesel. After a series of tests in a sustained three-year effort, Thiyagarajan finally perfected the device and applied for a patent.

Machine converting plastic to fuel

 C S M Sundaram, Thiyagarajan's guide, said the device was the result of backbreaking work, persistence and dogged tenacity. "It involved research, fieldwork and frequent upgrading of design," he said. "I may have helped her occasionally but the credit is all hers," said Sundaram, 80, a retired professor of St Xavier's College, Mumbai.
She applied for a patent for the device in June 2013. "The patent authorities checked the machine for two months and verified that it could be patented. They accepted my application in August," Thiyagarajan said.

Explaining how her 'pyro-plant' functions, she said, all plastics except PET bottles are put in a chamber and heated in the absence of oxygen over chromium micro band heaters (similar to those used in water immersion rods) to temperatures of between 350oC and 375oC. The gas generated passes into another chamber with a water coolants coils on two sides. It is then pumped into another compartment half-filled with water. The fuel floats on the surface. Non-soluble gas that passes into a condenser can be used as an LPG alternative.
The device is not expensive and requires just three hours to generate fuel. A 5kg unit costs around Rs 75,000 and a 25kg variant, Rs3 lakh. Each kg of plastic produces 800ml of diesel. While the diesel can be stored, the LPG generated has to be used directly and cannot be compressed, Thiyagarajan said.

"A similar process is used to generate fuel in China but the production costs are high and it is a time-consuming process," Thiyagarajan said.
Indian Institute of Technology-Madras chemical engineering professor S Pushpavanam said the invention is feasible and could be used to produce fuel.
Thiyagarajan's other inventions include a night vision camera and an electromagnetic belt for physiotherapy.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

They can, because they think they can

They can, because they think they can
In spite of being visually challenged, Naqi Hyder Rizvi has topped the Industrial Engineering exam of Alfaisal University, Riyadh, while his younger sister Rubab Fatima, with partial vision, is equally capable

Mumtaz Fatima flanked by her son Naqi Hyder Razvi and daughter Rubab Fatima at The Hindu's office in Hyderabad on Wednesday. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
Mumtaz Fatima flanked by her son Naqi Hyder Razvi and daughter Rubab Fatima at The Hindu's office in Hyderabad on Wednesday

You’ll never find a rainbow if you are looking down. And Naqi Hyder Rizvi never did. He always believed in positive anything is better than negative nothing. Today Naqi’s family is justifiably proud of his achievements. In spite of being visually challenged, Naqi (22) has topped the Industrial Engineering exam of the Alfaisal University, Riyadh, held in June.
Naqi and his younger sister, Rubab Fatima, are victims of congenital glaucoma. While Naqi lost vision in both eyes at the age of seven, his sibling has partial vision in the right eye while the left one is totally blind. Interestingly, both of them have never been to a school for visually-impaired.
Right from nursery they have studied in normal schools and excelled. Fatima (21) is now pursuing B.Sc in Saudi Arabia where her parents have settled down. The family makes an annual visit to Hyderabad for check up at L.V. Prasad Eye Hospital.

Woman of steel
Behind every successful person there is a woman. And in their case it is their mother Mumtaz Fatima. Superhuman is how they describe their mother. An MBA graduate herself, Mumtaz turned down many lucrative jobs just to help her children get a good grounding in education. Love is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. The duo not just feel, but also see the motherly affection showered by Mumtaz which helped them face the challenges upfront.
Right from day one Mumtaz did not allow her children to get the feeling of being disabled. She treated them like normal kids and in this, she got support from her Pakistani husband Sibte Hyder Rizvi. The National Association for Blind, Mumbai, was very supportive.
Many regular schools in Karachi refused to accept the children. Luckily, Springfield School admitted them. But it was only the beginning and not the end of the struggle. A brilliant child, Naqi could easily comprehend and remember what was taught in the classroom. But his mother had to put in extra effort to help him write. “I made clay models of various things so that he can touch and feel the shape. I also made maps using cotton for him to identify,” says Mumtaz.
She also learnt Braille script and experimented with assistive technology like tape recorder, German plastic sheets, computer speaker software, JAWS, to help Naqi learn the lessons.
“I had very understanding and accommodating friends and faculty at the university,” says Naqi.
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision. But Naqi has his plans worked out. Both he and his sister feel a strong sense of belonging for people from both sides of the border since their father is from Pakistan and mother from India.
“I want to be an ambassador of peace,” says Naqi.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013



As the festive season of Rakshabandan is fast approaching, I encouraged inmates of Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT, a house of destitute women), Hyderabad to make Rakhis. This is their first attempt to make Rakhis.  I was amazed at their commitment and interest. They made several Rakhi’s of different styles and colors.

The inmates actively participated and made Rakhis.  This activity bonded them like a glue.  Their confidence was also boosted.  They were so excited when they made their first Rakhi sale, that it was very difficult to contain their excitement.

The inmates already sold about 150 Rakhis.  The inmates are also planning some activities like diya making, greeting cards etc. for Diwali season.

The intent of these activities is to make them feel that they are also capable of making something that is useful to the society, generate some revenues and more importantly inject the dose of self-confidence and make them feel that they are also capable of developing creative artifacts.

If you have ideas as to how we can encourage and make KGNMT inmates self-reliant, send your comments to Ravi Talluri:

Feel free to contact the following persons, if you want to place orders and encourage the inmates of KGNMT.

Mr. Murthy, Manager KGNMT 9347502345

Mr. Srinavas, Manager KGNMT 9393667141

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Creative Children At KGNM Trust


The Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT) at Hydersha Kote, Hyderabad, AP, India is an abode for destitute women and children. The center is providing training to women in various categories of self-help skills such as Tailoring Embroidery, Textile block printing, Biscuit-making, Bakery, Confectioneries and Condiments etc.  Currently the trust has about 130 members whose age ranges from 6 months to 70 years. Of these 130 members, about 40 members are students.  These students are attending schools and colleges.

A creativity workshop was conducted for these students.  The results were very fascinating.  The members freely expressed their ideas and demonstrated their talent.  As usual, I was astonished at their creative ideas. This is a special workshop unlike other school workshops, considering the trauma and hardships of the inmates. This workshop certainly worked as a morale booster.  It boosted their subdued creative spirits and increased cohesiveness.  We have to inject the confidence required for them to join the main stream of the society.  They need support and encouragement.  The support does not necessarily mean monetary support.  They must get the feeling that their voice and ideas are heard.  They need to be encouraged and more importantly appreciated. Momentarily they forgot their agonies.  We have to make it a point and pave way to make them permanently forget their agony and past.
The journey has just begun and path is full of challenges.  With the limited resources and several constraints, the creativity workshop was successfully conducted.  Obviously one such workshop will not give us the desired results. I am planning to conduct series of such workshops at KGNMT.  The intent is two folds – boost their self-esteem and nurture their creative talent. The more we encourage them the more they are likely to make an attempt to come out of their shell.  
I would like to emphasize the fact that unlike normal kids and students, the inmates of KGNMT is growing up in very challenging circumstances.  There is a crying need to support the inmates. Please take few moments to admire their talent.  Also feel free to share your ideas on how to conduct more meaning full workshops in order to ensure that they can lead normal life over a period of time.  I want to thank KGNMT staff and others for supporting me in my endeavors.  My special thanks to friend to Mr. Jai Shankar, who sponsored the workshop. Without your support the mission will be unfinished.  I am counting on your continued support.