Gandhinagar: An innovation that reduces water consumption in flushing a conventional toilet by almost 66%, a device for solar thermal disinfection of drinking water, and a cost-effective and sustainable liquid waste treatment and recycling system for domestic dwellings. These were some of the engineering solutions for water and sanitation challenges showcased by engineering students from across the country at the grand finale of the first edition of Vishwakarma Awards for Engineering Innovation 2022 held at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) on August 27, 2022.
Vishwakarma Awards for Engineering Innovation has been launched this year by the Maker Bhavan Foundation, a California-based charitable foundation, to incentivise Indian science & engineering students to build innovative systems to boost India’s economy. Maker Bhavan Foundation works with higher education institutions in India to infuse engineering education with curiosity, innovation and experiential learning.
They will be conducting a competition every year with a focus on a specific theme. This year’s engineering innovation competition was focused on building novel systems that offer solutions to the myriad water and sanitation-related problems affecting the quality of life in urban and rural India.
This year’s competition was put open on January 07, 2022, and was co-sponsored by Wheels India Niswarth (WIN) Foundation in partnership with Dr Kiran C Patel Centre for Sustainable Development (KPCSD) at IITGN. It drew 120 applications from student teams from science and engineering colleges across the country. Following a rigorous analysis of these applications and ideas, 35 teams were selected to work on a prototype of their solution. They were also provided financial support and mentoring by experts from the water and sanitation sector.
After a few months of expert mentoring and developing prototypes, 10 shortlisted finalists showcased their innovative solutions for water and sanitation challenges to a distinguished jury panel at the Grand Finale of Vishwakarma Awards held at IITGN. The jury panel included: Mr Ravindra K Mariwal, Founder & CEO, SMAART Water; Mr Suresh Redhu, CTO & Senior Vice President, Eureka Forbes; Ms Padmaja Ruparel, Co-Founder & President, Indian Network Angel; Mr Anuj Sharma, CEO, Piramal Sarvajal Pvt Ltd; Mr Ruyintan Mehta, President, WIN Foundation; and Prof Jaichander Swaminathan, Kanchan and Harilal Doshi Chair Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, IITGN.
Speaking on the occasion Dr Hemant Kanakia, Founder of the Maker Bhavan Foundation, said, “Technology and science have come together to aid some of the pressing concerns on water that plague many parts of the world today, and many water-related industries have emerged all over. All of these are creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and jobs for engineering talent. Our vision and goal is to encourage India’s emerging engineering talent to focus on solving societal problems with innovations that make a difference.”
Shri Ruyintan Mehta, President, Wheels India Niswarth (WIN) Foundation, said, “Innovations in Water and Sanitation domain are required to enable water availability and sanitation for underserved communities in a sustainable manner, and we are happy to partner with Maker Bhavan Foundation for the Vishwakarma Innovation Prize, which has, in turn, brought forth many highly promising innovations in this domain. WIN Foundation supports such innovations to be adopted at grass roots.”
Sharing thoughts on the initiative, Prof Amit Prashant, Officiating Director, IITGN, said, “Our country has no dearth of young talent to find innovative solutions to the challenges faced in our day-to-day lives. All they need is the right amount of motivation, support, and mentorship, as provided under the Vishwakarma Awards for Engineering Innovation, to turn their ideas into reality. I am sure these innovations would be able to bring the desired change for the pressing issues of water and sanitation.”
Winning Engineering Innovations for Water and Sanitation:
Three teams were declared winners of the programme based on their unique and relevant solutions:
The first grand prize of Rs 5 lakh was won by Abishek G, Akshatha Devi Lolla, and Suchithra S from PSG College of Engineering, Coimbatore, for developing an innovation that reduces water consumption by almost 66% in a conventional toilet by changing the shape to a hyperboloid. A hyperboloid toilet is a water-conserving toilet that eliminates the S-trap of toilets to reduce the water consumption to 2/3rd of the current usage without a compromise in the quality of flush. Their prototype’s testing yielded encouraging results, and it used only 2 litres of water per flush as opposed to 6 litres used in conventional toilets.
Students from IIT Bombay, namely Ananya Sah, Mohammaed Aslam Villan, and Shubham Tiwari, won second prize of Rs 2 lakh for their solution on SWAP-Solar Water Antimicrobial Purifier, a device for solar thermal disinfection of drinking water. SWAP is a fully functional prototype for rapid water disinfection using solar energy with a net zero carbon footprint.
The third prize of Rs 1 lakh was awarded to Ravi Kumar Yadava and Ravneet Kumar Yadav from IISER, Mohali. They have developed iHydroMET, a wastewater treatment and resource recovery technology that employs the concept of hydroponics and microbial electrochemical technology. It is a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution to manage wastewater at the source point, providing resource recovery in the form of reclaimed water, horticulture yield and some energy.
Other seven inventions and their innovators include:
- Prem Kumar from IIT Guwahati: Near real-time monitoring and quantification of inland water using satellites
- Megha R Raj, K Vidyalashmi, Keerthy Remesh, Sarath SS, Sudeep K S from TKMCE, Kollam: Removal of microplastics using psidium guajava leaves
- Neelanjan & Indranil from IIEST Shibpur: Development of arsenic removal unit with electrocoagulation and activated alumina sorption
- Abishek G, Suriya N from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore: AquaReGenerator, a one-of-a-kind solar desalinator
- Shreeniwas Sathe, Dr Inrajut Charabory, Rishabh Raj from IIT Kharagpur: Application of waste-derived carbon-based electrodes for tertiary treatment of wastewater
- Nekita & Abhishek from IIT Delhi: EcoFilter: An eco-friendly and economical water treatment unit
- Akansha Saini, Prakriti Gupta, Pala Dobal, Mohd Touseef, Aryan Shukla from IIT Jammu: Real-time water leakage system using vibration in pipes