Inspired by Chennai Water Crisis, GITAM Students Design a System to Recycle Kitchen Sink Water
CHENNAI : Inspired by the Chennai water crisis of 2019, six science and engineering students of GITAM, a Deemed to be-university, have designed a smart water-recycling system for kitchen sinks to ease the water problems of Indian cities.
Based on this unique innovation, the students have been selected as one of the five teams at the AIM-ICDK Water Innovation Challenge 2.0, organized by the Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, in partnership with Innovation Center Denmark (ICDK), under the aegis of the Denmark Technical University. The winners will represent India at the International Water Congress to be held in Denmark in May 2022.
Five students from the team are pursuing a B.Tech course at GITAM’s Visakhapatnam campus, including Anik Panja, Prithvi Tripathy, Sai Sasikanth Rokkam Jeswin GN and Shivani Narsina. The sixth student, Rushali Mishra, is enrolled in a second-year B.Sc (Environmental Science). The team was mentored by GITAM VDC(Venture Development Centre) Coaches Vikas Kumar Srivastav and Bollem Raja Kumar. The team has also received support from the Leadership team of GITAM, at different stages to convert their idea from a concept to a functional one.
The students understand and relate to the excruciating plight of Chennai’s water crisis in 2019 and are determined to give a shot at a solution. They designed an eco-friendly and smart grey-water filtration system called Hydro Gravitricity, which is capable of catalyzing biogas. It recycles the dark grey water coming out of kitchen sinks after dishwashing.
The team’s coach Vikas Kumar Srivastav said, “Faced with Chennai’s water crisis, the students decided to throw the kitchen sink at the problem. As part of the core technical team in the IEEE student branch of GITAM in 2019, they were required to make a group project innovatively related to water conservation. Coincidentally, the water crisis in Chennai was at its peak, with an extreme shortage of water for daily use. That became the key catalyzing event for the team to embark on the project of recycling water draining out of kitchen sinks after dishwashing. It took the students 2.5 years to take the concept to the prototype stage through multiple designs and iterations.”
Said the team’s coach Bollem Raja Kumar: “The students have designed a self-maintaining, smart, and retrofittable rainwater and greywater filtration system. It has multiple stages fitted with filters, membranes, and sedimentation tanks, with a grease trap. Sand and charcoal filters thoroughly clean the water. Built-in sensors provide real-time data on water quality and parameters such as pH, turbidity, TDS, and water volume. The filtered water can be used for irrigation, cleaning, and flushing toilets. Individually the science behind every stage exists in the real world in bits and pieces. The students integrated all these systems and engineered them to fit into a limited space.”
Student Anik Panja, one of the team leaders says, “An average household is estimated to generate about 356 litres of grey water daily. This is a huge amount if multiplied by thousands of restaurants and millions of households in a city. This water currently drains into sewers. Recycling it can go a long way in meeting chronic water shortages. We built a plug-and-play greywater recycling system that can be retrofitted into existing kitchen pipes. It is also smart, hassle-free, and self-maintaining, reducing the effort required for maintenance. We have integrated several sensors in the system, allowing it to adjust the self-maintenance cycle and generate a live report for the user to monitor the water usage and output quality.”
Prithvi Tripathy, another student, added: “We have been allocated funds and space by GITAM to build and test our prototype, giving us the ability to fine-tune the product faster. This will be our pilot project. We are now working towards getting access to various water-testing labs in the country to validate the results published by our research. We would like to get access to some water-intensive manufacturing plants to install and test our product.”
Sai Sasikanth Rokkam, a member of the student team, says, “The Hydro Gravitricity solution is readily implementable in a real-world setting globally. As the system can be retrofitted to existing pipelines, it can be easily scaled up from the domestic household level to the industrial level. We will work on developing the solution further with mentoring by Atal Innovation Mission incubators and the Denmark Technical University. We intend to apply for relevant grants from Niti Aayog to design a medium-scale prototype and bring the product to the market.”
The Hydro Gravitricity project is being incubated at the Venture Development Centre of GITAM (Deemed to be University). The system has won the first prize at the Business Plan Contest at Tirutsava, the annual techno-cultural festival of IIT Tirupati.