Innovation needs to keep pace with the fast evolving civilization. And time and again, the students of IIT Delhi have ushered in newer technology to match this pace. We are proud that three of our graduating chemical engineers have been accredited with the creation of FAME One, a technology that converts waste cooking oil into bio- diesel.
On conversation with Mohit Soni and Abhishek Sharma, they recall the journey from a design course project to a nationally acclaimed one as one of the most valuable experiences of their life.
c“We started off as a team of 5 working on project that would provide an implementable solution to a real life problem. Working under an assigned budget of Rs.5000, we developed ideas to optimise our design.”
That year they presented their project at the open house, which went on to be adjudged as the best undergrad project at the All Department Inter IIT Open House! From strengthening of fundamentals to adding novelty, from optimising the design to developing a large-scale model, they grew not only as engineers but also as economists.
The team claims that the turning point of the entire journey was their participation and pre-eminence in the GE Edison challenge. “When we came across GE Edison’s challenge -Powering India 24x7 we realised that we had the opportunity to develop even further. Your proclivity for working towards perfection and thinking out-of-the-box are the overriding factors when you set out to create a technology” adds Mohit.
The most remarkable Eureka moment comes to you when you do a thorough perusal of your subject. As they pursued their research, they comprehended that the lion’s share of the cost of biodiesel could be attributed to the transportation of waste oils to the processing plants. Commercialising the process meant cutting down on this expenditure. “We needed to develop a model wherein the waste oil is processed and is available as biodiesel there itself. This was when the idea of having a prototype of the size of a washing machine was conceived” says Mohit, as he explains how the idea of creating a prototype dawned upon them.
Shedding some light on their idea, the underlying technology and its efficacy, the squad says that India generates a humongous amount of waste cooking oil annually. FAME One provides a solution to India’s energy deficit by means of the process of transesterification. It is an eco-friendly method of utilising waste to generate energy. While hotels and households can utilise this for recycling the waste oils, rural households can use this as a technique to produce diesel from oilseeds at a cheaper rate. “This technique has been known in the scientific community and we worked on optimising the process for the kinds of oil wastes a typical Indian household produces.” says Abhishek Sharma.
Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success manifold. While in Paris on a Foreign Exchange program, Mohit did some market research and studied the economic aspects of the project while concurrently, Abhishek and Harshit worked on designing the prototype. The team has gone strength to strength in converting a simple design project to an intra-collegiate, then to a nationally acclaimed one and which now has the potential to become a commercially viable and eco-friendly technology.
“Our sheer dedication bore fruit as we won the GE Edison Challenge. It wasn’t as though ours was the most novel project, but we had done an in-depth analysis of the commercialisation of our project and how it could cater to the consumers. This is what GE was willing to invest in,” says a pleased Mohit.
On the commercial forefront, Taj, a high end hotel chain across the globe, showed interest in their innovation and wanted to adopt their technology. Owing to the actual implementation of the model at such a huge level, the expected deliverables turned out to be challenges. They wanted a technology that was easy to work with but at the same time produced high quality bio-diesel, was compliant with the international and government standards and had minimum water utilisation.
When asked about the major challenge faced in this journey, Mohit adds, “The major issue we faced was the delay in encashing of the prize money. This hindered the development of our project for some time. Challenges become obstacles only when you bow down to them. But having been successful in overcoming the various challenges we faced, our project is now progressing well.”
“The research on this technology doesn’t end with our journey in IIT. We hope that it will be pursued by many students of the institute in the years to come” said an elated Abhishek Sharma.
On his advice to the budding technocrats at IIT, Mohit advocates, “Well, my advice to all the brilliant minds here is to work dedicatedly and to get your professor involved from the very beginning. While working on the project, your mind will surely be filled with overwhelming ideas. You can always seek guidance from your professor to choose the best idea and take your innovation to the next level. Association with FITT must be done in the initial stages to make the funding process smooth. Make sure you work with a team of dedicated peers so that you get the best out of everyone. Most importantly, always be on the lookout for opportunities! Try and embrace them to innovate!”
To know more about the technology follow the link: http://www.thebetterindia.com/17584/new-technology-that-can-convert-waste-cooking-oil-into-bio-diesel-iit-delhi-innovation/
-BY ADITI MAHAJAN AND SANYAM GUPTA