Friday, 27 April 2012

Collecting History!

Nice article on a unique collector from Bangalore.  One can wonder what is so sustainable about collecting old papers and artefacts, but in  a world where virtual digital is the norm, it is heartening to see someone caring for old parchments and papers of historical value.  Today these collections may have little interest beyond a small circle of like-minded collectors, but tomorrow is another day and there will come a time when these collectibles will find a wider audience as our society develops a greater understanding of India's past.

Milk man for the new millenium?

A great story from Orissa, where a young native entrepreneur, Srikumar Mishra, has set up a new milk distribution business with a sustainable angle.  Better shelf life of milk and other products, but also a keen messaging campaign to its customers that the milk does not require boiling as is so often the case with fresh milk in India... hence saving on cooking gas and valuable energy.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Improving Solar cell panels.

Solar cells are becoming cheaper to make, which is why we are seeing a lot of renewed interest in them with many solar farms cropping up all over the world.  However, although the cell technology has been getting cheaper, it's has remained rather low.  From initial 12% conversion rates, the new technology available on the market has managed to improve somewhat to a 14% to18% efficiency rate... ie 18% of the sun's energy is converted to electric energy.  This due to various factors, but the main one being because the materials used for this are only able to absorb a certain part of the light energy which make up the sun's rays.  The sun's light is made up for a large spectrum such as the different colours that come from a rainbow, the UV light, the infra-red light which we feel as heat and so on.

Furthermore, this technology is only able to convert a theoretical maximum of 33% of the total solar energy. So even if this technology is improved in the future, it will never be able to achieve as good a conversion rate as other technologies which use more expensive materials and manufacturing techniques such as solar cells on satellites.

Now all this may be about to change as reported by gizmag.  The limitations of our current commercial grade solar cells are mainly due to the fact that it cannot absorb either high energy light or low energy light, it is only suited for a limited fraction of the light that makes up the spectrum of sun light.  New research suggest that a new technique could see a layer of chemicals interacting with sun light before it reaches the solar cells, whereby these chemicals would convert the low energy light present in sun light into a light that is better suited to be absorbed by the solar cell. 
Imagine, for simplicity, that sun light is made up of 3 type of energy light, red light (low energy), yellow (medium energy) and blue light (high energy).  Now, in this case, our solar cell can only absorb the yellow light, the red and blue being lost. The new chemical filter being proposed would absorb the red light and convert it into yellow light, thus the solar cell would get an extra dose of yellow, while the blue light would still be lost.

If this technology makes it to the manufacturing process, we could get solar panels that would convert up to 40% of solar energy.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Gods made in Spain!

An interesting article about a Spanish sculptor creating figurines of Hindu in Spain.  A clear case of Indian rebirth you might think!  Apparently, Raul, who shares his name with a more famous compatriot of his from Madrid, has been at it from some time and sells his work in India for quite a hefty price.  Anyhow, the great thing about this story is how it highlights the increasing diversity we read about in the news.  The more diversity the more we can hope for a sustainable future... who knows where this artist will go to next.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The longest lasting light bulb

Incredible as it sounds, this light bulb in the fire station of Livermore (California, USA) has been switched on since 1901!  It has 111 years.  A permanent webcam monitors the bulb which has already outlived ttwo webcams.

Planned Obsolescence of consumer products

A rather amazing documentary on the way modern consumer products are designed to fail. This is a trend that is as old as the industrial revolution and has gone to such proportions today that there is a real awareness spreading to blow the lid of this trend and get consumers to demand a change in our economic model of growth. Well worth watching till the end, as it talks of the sustainable alternatives we need to adopt.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Sustainable education project...

I came across MAD (Make A Difference) on a tweet which got me curious.  This is a project to empower underprivileged kids in urban India, not by the usual learn-by-rote dishing out of useless information but rather to improve their overall skill set so as to make them better learners and more independent.  Here is the quote from their site:

"We are an Organization of young people working amongst orphans and other underprivileged kids to provide them with quality education so that one day it shall empower them to stand on their own feet [....] prepare them [to] face life better by improving their communication skills, computer skills and their overall personality.

This is great for India's awakening, working at the grass roots and getting young people to learn to think for themselves and empower them to be self sufficient learners!  Way to go MAD, keep up the fantastic work.

Check out this neat video presentation on the project.

Vote for them on Mahindra Spark the Rise, this is a site that promotes such projects and you can vote for your favourite.  The winners get a grant to promote their activity.  If you are in India you can do so with a simple SMS.  Do make your vote count, it only cost you 5 mins and an SMS! 


Clipping our wings for self serving interests!

This article is interesting because it is revealing the very deep malaise in India's aviation sector which has been at the root of so many problems we have been reading in the papers lately, from the AI debauchery and KF absurdity to the pilot licensing scandal.  The aviation authorities in India, may it be the AAI (airports) or the DGCA (civil aviation) or even the defence sector (read the infamous LCA project), are all suffering of the same syndrome.  This is best summarised with the following words: 
"What can India do for me?"
Self-serving civil servants have been the bane of Nehruvian socialism and remains the biggest obstacle to India's rise.  Here is a typical issue that arise from officials of Airport Authority of India seeking more money and yet not realising that they are shooting themselves in the foot tomorrow.  Today there is NOT a single flying school with a reputation in the country because it is cheaper to fly to the US, rent a house near a flying school, pay the tuition fees and your living expenses for the next 6 months and return with your CPL to ensure a job in the ever expanding airline industry then to try to get the equivalent license locally... unless you want to buy a licence.  If you want a PPL then forget about it!

The reason is rather straightforward, with aviation authorities reportedly requesting 1 lakh Rs per aircraft seat (private communication from air force officer) to register a new jumbo in the country, you can imagine they are simply not interested in promoting general aviation as it does not have the 'business' opportunities to make it worth their time.  This short-sightedness destroys the grass root of the sector, potentially talented aviation engineers and pilots are shut out form a market that is already saturated with foreign workers due to a restricted pool of local talent.  This has a two negative impact for our future, an aviation sector dominated by external talent and regulating institutions that will suffer from a lack of talented minds resulting in rote-learning, self-serving bureaucrats that have no interest in improving the system.  

India, we need to wake up!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Indian Manga, sustaining cultural diversity

Great little book out on the shelves of Indian comic stores, a Japanese Manga writer on his tribulation in India.  Love the title!  Will pick one up and update with a review.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Solarator, 2kVA, Made in India

Sustainable and cheap electricity, the solarator is ideal for your country property or farm.  It generates electricity during the day time to run a pump or some electrical equipment such as drill or a saw.  It can also be used to recharge a UPS system.  It comes equipped with 4 or 8 batteries depending on requirements and therefore has enough back up to provide electricity during the night.

Manufactured in Bangalore by a JV between HHV Solar Technologies Pvt. Ltd and  Raj Hamsa Pvt Ltd a company better known for its 2 seater microlight aircraft.  The price of a Solarator is expected to be about 3.5 lakh as it is yet to be fully commercialised in India.  It was recently displayed at the London Solar energy exhibition and made quite an impression, with many specialist in the field saying this is by far the best product on the market.  Way to go India!  For more details on the product check out this article.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Cool personal transport from Kochi local Sanu

Look at what the world is talking about, a personal transportation electrical vehicle designed by a Kochi based designer called Sanu KR.  Still a mystery as to who is Sanu...