IIT-Madras and TANSTIA FNF Service Centre sign MoU on technology transfer of water treatment system and analysis kits

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Chennai: The Indian Institute of Technology – Madras signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TANSTIA-FNF Service Centre on Monday (March 20) for the technology transfer of ‘Point of use Water Treatment System and Water Analysis Kits’. The T-FNF Service Centre will take this technology to small industries. IIT – Madras has not patented the technology and is giving it away almost free of cost.

Prof. Krishnan Balasubramaniam, Dean, Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research, IIT – Madras and C. Babu, Chairman, TANSTIA-FNF Service Centre, signed the MoU. Mr. Babu said that the plan was to take this technology to 1,500 entrepreneurs in five years.

In many rural areas of the country, people remain unaware of the quality of water they use for drinking and other purposes. They assess quality based on its colour, odour and taste. While groundwater that appears safe be contaminated, water that appears bad but originating from a good source might require only a simple treatment to make it potable.

Most of these mistakes are committed due to lack of awareness and access to water testing facilities. Towards this, the IIT-Madras has developed a ‘Point of use’ water treatment system and an easy-to-use water testing kits designed specifically for rural areas.

Prof. Krishnan Balasubramaniam said, “IIT professors are committed to societal development at various levels. This is a grassroots level project that benefits day-to-day entrepreneurs who make a living. While the institutions can develop new technologies, it is organizations such as TANSTIA that can take it from the laboratories to the grassroots.”

Water Testing Kits
Prof. Ligy Philip of the Department of Civil Engineering, along with her students Dr. R. Elangovan and Mr. D. Kumaran, developed two water testing kits, one for 14 parameters and another for 24 parameters. The 14 parameters test kit can be used for (i) pH, (ii) total hardness, (iii) chlorides, (iv) dissolved solids, (v) calcium, (vi) sulphate, (vii) nitrate, (viii) fluoride, (ix) alkalinity, (x) magnesium, (xi) acidity, (xii) phosphate, (xiii) residual chlorine and (xiv) bacteriological quality.

“We developed the water testing kits with inputs from local communities and their involvement as well. Using this kit for continuous monitoring of drinking water quality significantly improved the public health,” said Prof. Ligy Philip.

The kits have already been tested extensively in the field. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund or UNICEF sponsored several training programs in Krishnagiri district where the testing kits were distributed to 176 panchayats.

R. Vijayalakshmi, Director, TANSTIA-FNF Service Centre, said “We have been awarded i-STED project by the Central Government’s Department of Science and Technology. Under this, we identify entrepreneurs and hand-hold them to start an industry based on technologies developed by institutions.” S. Rathna Pandian, Project Officer, i-STED, said that the technology will be taken to all 32 districts of Tamilnadu.

Easy-to-use Water Filters
A simple, easy-to-make and easy-to-use domestic water filter has also been developed. The research project was funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a public corporation created by the Canadian Government. The ‘Point of Use’ water treatment system will remove turbidity, organic matter, colour and odour besides most bacteriological contamination. The filtered water is collected in a container with proper lid, tap and chlorine tablet is added to remove microbes. The maintenance of the system is very simple. ‘Point of Use’ systems are installed at a single water connections like under kitchen counters or bathroom sinks.

In India, in almost all the states, availability of potable water in adequate quantities is a severe problem in rural areas. Nature of the problem varies from state to state. In some places, it is an “availability” problem, whereas in other places, it is a “quality” problem.

In many places, people, especially women and children spend a significant amount of their time and energy for fetching potable water for their day to day use. In this context, the 1967 batch alumni of IIT Madras initiated a project titled “Ramachandran Jaikumar Initiative for Rural Technologies” to focus on (i) water supply and sanitation (ii) alternative energy through biogas. IIT Madras was chosen for technical input and project implementation.