One of the biggest drawbacks of chemical batteries is that they are non-biodegradable and add to a degree of environmental pollution when incinerated or destroyed post use. But a winning innovation by a student of IIT-Kharagpur can circumvent that problem.

Ramya Veerubhotla, a first-year PhD student at IIT KGP recently won a prize of ₹10,00,000 for her innovation, which is a flexible, biodegradable battery, made from paper and conductive ink, which can draw electrical charge from organic liquids like sewage water or even urine.

After testing her theory for a year-and-a-half, Veerubhotla found that any carbon-based ink can act as a conductor of electricity, which included testing eyeliner. The device, which presently can give a few microwatts of power, can be stacked with other such batteries to provide a higher charge.

The battery is constructed by using electrodes made out of paper that are coated in carbon-based ink, which works to connect the anode and cathode, and the device is biodegradable thereafter, due to the base materials. The sewage water, which contains bacteria, is then injected into the device, which takes a negligible 10 seconds to start up. Other microbial fuel cells developed in the past usually take days to power up.

And since both paper and ink are easily available and low-cost materials, they can be procured easily and anyone with a rudimentary skill set too can construct this battery for use.

The battery was presented as part of IIT Kharagpur’s annual competition Sparkle, where innovations from students across universities compete for a prize. Veerubhotla, along with her team Electrodes, won the handsome prize for her unique innovation. Her team was the selected winner among more than 1,500 teams that applied and were shortlisted.

Her aim is to be able to use this battery, once it is scaled up, to power bio-electric toilets, and other microelectronic devices.

More power to her and innovators like her, who are looking to find sustainable and environment-friendly methods of providing energy and electricity, while also driving low-cost production and easy execution to the forefront.

Source - Being Indian


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