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View from India: And the award goes to…

FICCI R&D Awardees 2017 is an interesting mix of organisations that have created tech services for society. While doing so, processes have been tweaked, newer options have been created and existing ones have been redefined

A game changer for the leather industry

It’s a technology that’s slated to be a game changer in the leather industry, and for the right reasons. Traditionally leather processing is far from being environmentally friendly. Not only is it associated with solid, liquid and gaseous liquids, but the process itself is a water guzzler. Annually 20,000 tons of chrome tanning agent is discharged in the waste water.

Chennai’s Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) has addressed the problem through a technique called the Waterless Chrome Tanning Technology (WCTT), which has already been licensed to 50 tanneries. WCTT eliminates the use of water in tanning, apart from reducing the dissolved solids and lowering the chromium content.

CLRI is the world’s largest leather institute and a recognised centre for testing of restricted substances, as well as finished leather certification. CLRI is part of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), which has a national network of R&D laboratories. CLRI has arrived at several path-breaking technological interventions for the leather industry.

R&D Awardee 2017: CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai for Waterless Chrome Tanning Technology (WCTT)

Recover, recycle, key to hydrazine hydrate’s growth

Seen from the economy point of view, the production of hydrazine hydrate is expected to add to the country’s prosperity. This explains how CSIR and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad teamed up to develop what has evolved as the country’s first indigenously produced technology in the hydrazine hydrate space. Through R&D the core team arrived at energy efficient solutions that are also conducive to the environment. The end result is that over 90 per cent of the raw material is recovered and recycled or put back into the process. As of now, this project has been piloted.

R&D Awardee 2017: CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad for their development of a process for hydrazine hydrate

When vision becomes a reality for all

Visual impairment is a challenge that cuts across all demographics. It’s even worse in the case of the rural poor due to poverty and accessibility. LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad is credited for creating an Innovation Cluster for Affordable High-Quality Eye Care that Reaches the Unreached. This large-scale reach has been possible because LVPEI has created a cross-subsidy model over the last 30 years. With this, technological interventions have helped LVPEI reach out to the rural poor. Direct services have been offered to people residing in 3,600 villages in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Epidemiology reveals that over 15 million Indians are visually impaired, of whom about 11 million suffer from treatable forms of blindness. Since seven million of these live in rural areas, the challenge is to reach out to them with high quality eye care.

R&D Awardee 2017: LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad for creating an Innovation Cluster for Affordable High-Quality Eye Care that Reaches the Unreached

Foggy Facts 

Blame it on the weather! Yes, literally, fog brings to mind images of poor visibility caused by water droplets in the air. In practical terms, objects appear to be blurred and lack clarity, which causes discomfort for the viewer. Consequently the Department of Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur developed an algorithm to remove fog from videos in real time. This is how it works. The algorithm estimates the distance of an object from a camera in the form of a depth map. This is further fine-tuned through anisotropic diffusion to identify clear boundaries of the object. On every frame of the video, this operation is repeated till it arrives at a defogged video stream in a real time. Real Time Fog Removal from Videos and Real Time Rain Removal from Videos has scope in the transport industry as well as the surveillance industry.

R&D Awardee 2017: Department of Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur for creating Real Time Fog Removal from Videos and Real Time Rain Removal from Videos

Solar ferry anyone?

The name ADITYA may not ring a bell, but this is India’s first solar ferry, created by NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats. The Kochi-based company focuses on making marine transport efficient and if possible, lower energy needs to zero. A beginning was made by conceptualising a small cruise boat which won the Limca Book of Records for Fastest Solar Boat in India.

Coming to the latest offering, the vessel is remotely monitored and the upgrades and settings in the software can also be done remotely. ADITYA will operate as a 75-passenger ferry for the Kerala government and it does not have any fuel on board.

As part of immediate plans, the Kerala government has envisioned 10 such ferries to ply in various parts of the state and 50 more as a long-term measure.

In its effort to popularise solar nautical vessels, NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats intend to reach out to other states like Karnataka, UP, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

Catapult Awardee 2017: NavAlt Solar & Electric Boats, Kochi for creating ADITYA — India’s first solar ferry.

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