IIT Gandhinagar PhD alumna wins SITARE-Gandhian Young Technological Award 2020

Gandhinagar: Ms Deepa Dixit, a recent PhD graduate from the Chemical Engineering discipline of the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN), has won Gandhian Young Technological Innovation award 2020 in the category of Students Innovations for Advancement of Research Explorations – Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (SITARE-GYTI). The virtual award ceremony of SITARE-GYTI and SRISTI-GYTI awards, held in New Delhi on November 05, 2020, was graced by Hon’ble Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Deepa is among the 14 recipients of SITARE-GYTI award from all over the country, who were selected after a rigorous review process by eminent professors and scientists in respective fields. This year, the SITARE-GYTI award category had received 250 entries from student innovators from 96 universities and institutes across 23 states and Union Territories.

Deepa has received this award for developing ‘A Non-Electric and Affordable Surface Engineered Particle Based Point-of-Use Water Disinfection’ system. Deepa aimed to develop a low-cost and easy to use drinking water filter, which can replace the conventional treatment methods of boiling and chlorination among the low-income groups. She, under the supervision of her PhD guide Prof Chinmay Ghoroi (B S Gelot Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering), designed and developed the inexpensive ‘surface-engineered particles’ (SEP) based non-electric, point-of-use (POU) water purification system, which can remove 99.48% of bacteria from 300 million cells per millilitre of water, that too without using any disinfecting agent like silver nanoparticles or silver ions for point-of-use (POU) application. The SEPs in this water disinfection system are engineered in such a way that they possess nanoscale roughness which can trap the bacteria when microbial-contaminated water flows through it.

In addition to the bacterial removal, the SEP-based filter also removes turbidity [from 27.1 NTU to 0.36 NTU (~99%)], maintaining the pH of filtered water in between 7.5 to 9.0. Hence, it can be connected directly to the water tap or the stored water source or any other point-of-use (POU). The water purification system can easily replace conventional water treatment methods used in the underdeveloped and remote areas where potable water is scarce. Besides, this material can also be used during natural disasters when bacterial pathogens are the major cause of water-borne diseases.

Sharing her thoughts on this achievement, Deepa Dixit said, “It is a great honor and privilege for me to receive the prestigious SITARE-Gandhian Young Technological Award 2020. IITGN gave freedom to think beyond the boundary and provided the world-class research environment to shape my imagination into a working prototype that can solve a critical problem of our society”.

Gandhian Young Technological Innovation awards are given under two categories, 1) SITARE–GYTI under Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and 2) SRISTI-GYTI given by SRISTI. These awards and appreciations are given to encourage technology students to move towards setting up Biotech and other start-ups.

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