A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) won the Google Pitch Fest in Zurich for their innovation – a waste-water filtration technique.
The system can transform highly contaminated water into clean water with zero wastage of water. It is especially of use to people with limited access to resources such as in remote areas, those stuck in disaster hit areas and armies that usually operate in such conditions.
Developed by Dr Sanjiv Sambandan of the Flexible Electronics Lab, Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics and his team, the technology is membrane-less, chemical-free and scalable from a hand-held water bottle to a large community-based system.
An electric field is used to polarise tiny impurities and cluster them into larger chunks. These can then be removed by low cost meshes which can be cleaned and re-used. With just 100 MW of power needed for purifying one litre of very poor quality water, the system is highly efficient. This implies that the hand-held bottle purifier can be powered by a hand crank, battery or solar cell.
“The motivation was that clean water be available to people in the remotest areas and that the solution be inexpensive and almost maintenance free,” said Sanjiv.
His team had earlier won the Gandhian Young Innovator Award in 2013 for building a blueprint of the filtration system on a printed circuit board that could purify 1 microliter of water in a minute.
Although far from a usable product, a proof of concept was established.
Until now, the project was funded by various centres at IISc – Division of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems, Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transport and Urban Planning. The team is however looking at finding more sources of funding and manufacturing partners so that it can be made into a commercial product.