A Revolutionary change to Next Gen Plastic – Edible or Biodegradable Plastic

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Can you imagine the world without plastic?

The controversy over the use of plastic has been an essential issue more than decades. However, though most of people know using plastic products like water bottles, polythene, cutlery etc is deleterious to our environment, unfortunately, it is still more convenient to buy a plastic container. Nevertheless, wastes generated from producing plastics are definitely over the expectation. Producing plastic is one of the major adversaries of Earth.

According to reports 564 billion plastic water bottles are consumed globally every year. Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. On average we only recycle one plastic bag in every 200 we use.

50% of plastic is used once and then thrown away so I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make, use and throw away each day. The BPA (Bisphenol-A) substance can make it hazardous to human health. It also involves energy-intensive processes that use a lot of raw materials. Polyesters like PET can be broken down through hydrolytic degradation and the ester linkage can be cut by a water molecule, but this reaction proceed differently in case of acidic or alcoholic condition under temperature 200-300 °C. Based on this PET is considered as non-biodegradable material which will take more time to decompose such as 450 years. According to the National Association for PET Container Resources, the recycling rate for PET has held steady at 31%.

A Revolutionary change to Next Gen Plastic – Edible or Biodegradable Plastic

Using plastic bottles also produces negative effects on health and environment also. Plastic drinking bottles contain many chemicals, which are harmful to human and animals’ body. Even though plastic drinking bottles are recyclable, most end up in landfills or as litter.

With the advancement in the technology, researchers have now come up with an edible water bottle (water ball) which has capability to set an end to plastic packaging requirements. A water ball is new way of packaging a liquid, say water, that proposes an alternative to the plastic bottle. The edible or consumable water bottle is a blob or drop-like water container which is made from sodium alginate gel. The biodegradable blob is created to make a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bottles. The water ball encloses a small volume of water in a membrane which is made from brown algae and calcium chloride.

The water ball is prepared by dropping ice (frozen liquid) into separate solutions of calcium chloride and brown algae and membrane form around it. This process is called as spherification process. The technique of spherification, of shaping a liquid into spheres which visually and texturally resemble caviar born in 1946 is disclosed in US Patent 2403547. Using the culinary technique of spherification, the water is enclosed in a double jellylike membrane. The technique consists into apply sodium alginate (E-401) which is natural product of the brown algae and calcium chloride (E-509) in a concrete proportion in order to generate a jellification on the peripheral of the liquid. Calcium deposited on the membrane creates hardened membrane, and hard shell in the manner of an egg shell. The final package is simple, cheap resistant, hygienic, biodegradable and even eatable. The edible water ball is tasteless, although flavours can be added to it.


A Revolutionary change to Next Gen Plastic – Edible or Biodegradable Plastic

A Revolutionary change to Next Gen Plastic – Edible or Biodegradable Plastic

A seaweed-tech start-up based in London Skipping Rocks Lab has actually implemented this concept and come up with a bio-degradable, edible water bottle (water ball) and the ball is named as “Ooho“. The water ball is a spherical packaging made of seaweed, entirely natural and biodegradable. The edible container can be consumed directly. A layer of edible container can be unwrapped off to keep the peripheral clean for consumption. The water ball will replace millions of plastic bottles thrown away every year.

Another common ecological problem in the fast food industry- the use of plastic cutlery. The problem with use of plastic cutlery is the issue of disposability. People just throw them away and they get buried in landfill and do not degrade if it’s a normal plastic.

Chemicals such as bisphenol A and pthalates leaching into food and drinks. Among all the other plastic substances that get into our food, BPA stands out for its ability to disrupt the functions of hormones- especially estrogen. Pthalates have also been known for causing reproductive problems for men.

The interesting over here is not the facts about the harm of plastic leaching into food, it’s the fact that we all are aware of this but are not taking any action.

The most innovative, revolutionary alternative – Edible Cutlery!

 A Revolutionary change to Next Gen Plastic – Edible or Biodegradable PlasticYou can have the spoon and eat it too! The spoon is just not edible but also nutritious. Edible cutlery offers an interesting alternative to the non-biodegradable plastic ones. “Sale of plastic cutlery, growing at a rate of about 30 per cent, is generating significant non-biodegradable waste and contributing to overflowing landfills. Edible cutlery is the only solution that provides the same convenience of disposable forks, spoons and chopsticks,” says Narayana Peesapaty, managing director of the Hyderabad-based start-up BK Environmental Innovations Private Limited, which developed edible cutlery by baking a mix of sorghum (jowar), rice and wheat flour. A splash of colour is added to the cutlery by including spinach (green), beet root (red) or carrot (orange) pulp to the product mix.

Let’s compare:

Plastic CutleryEdible Cutlery
PriceLowLow
ConvenienceHighHigh
DisposalEasy from a personal point of view but with harmful consequences for the environmentEasy, one can eat the spoon or let it out to decompose, decomposes in 4-5 days
TasteLeaves a bad taste when used during food consumptionServes the purpose of a nutritious millet bread or biscuit added to your meal
HealthBecause of the chemicals it contains and which leach into food, it can lead to cancer, damages of the nervous tissue and hormonal disruptionsBeneficial when consumed after one finishes his/her meal as one spoon contains fibre, iron, protein, calcium, etc.
Consequences for the EnvironmentTakes more than 800 to decompose, polluting streets, landfills and oceans and poisoning marine life and stray animalsTakes 4-5 days to decompose.

Although, a need of lot of research is required in this field. There are people out there making efforts to lessen plastic’s detrimental effects on the environment. Above here are just few ideas that give us hope for a plastic-free future.

There is a huge realization today that we are damaging our planet in many ways, plastic being a main culprit. More and more efforts are being made by eco-conscious individuals and scientists to find alternatives. Anyone can easily create the difference and chances and the others will follow along.

“Plastic is ubiquitous in modern society and seemingly unavoidable. But is it worth risking the lives of marine species, the health of the oceans and our own future in the name of convenience? By taking steps to minimize everyday plastics in our lives, we can crush plastic at the source and give marine life a fighting chance,” said Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet.

If we all try to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that finds its way.

You can also join hands to create a plastic free world for our succeeding generations.

 

 

Blog by:

Sanidhya Somani.

2nd Year, Electronics and Communications, SVNIT.

Self Driving Vehicles: Good idea or a bad idea?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Self Driving Vehicles: Good idea or a bad idea?

Laziness is the father of innovations”, beautifully quoted by Mr Stephen Shapiro, an American keynote speaker and businessman.

Consider an example of a human going for running some errands some miles away. “Walking would wear me out, so let me go on a bicycle. Well a bicycle is faster but efforts are still high, let me drop the idea of a bicycle. How about a two wheeler? No! It is hot out there and I hate dirt. Yes! I should use a car.” This type of laziness and comfort level is generally acceptable, but a lazy and luxury-oriented mind does not stop here. This is what it thinks, “Oh god! I am sleepy right now, how good it would be if someone would steer for me? Why to even sit in a car, I should learn teleportation. If only could I travel across the world with a blink of an eye?”

Well right now the first of the extreme desires of a human is starting to get fulfilled. An automatic car! Want to take a nap while driving? No problem. That is what a self driving car is all about. Okay, that is what a high amount of people think. The main aim of introducing autonomous car concept is not laziness or desires, but is to increase the safety measures of a car.

Safety is now the primary consideration for every vehicle manufacturer. As a customer, I would first have to predict if I could survive driving that car or not. “A little care and accidents become rare”, this is a famous road safety quote and a very essential one. According to survey, around 137,000 people died in India due to accidents in 2013 alone. This is more than the number of people killed in all our wars put together. According to Delhi Traffic Police reports, the major reason for accidents is a driver’s fault.

Self Driving Vehicles: Good idea or a bad idea?

A self driving car comes with sensors attached with the calls all around it. The sensors keep track of the objects around it, the distance of objects from the car, the speed with which they are approaching the vehicle etc and accordingly the vehicle decides the speed of car movement, the steering direction etc. This way the accidents can be prevented. This is what the computer aided vehicle (CAV) manufacturers claim.

Self Driving Vehicles: Good idea or a bad idea?

In India, the road traffic regulations are not much strict. People feel free to break some laws due to lower restrictions compared to other nations like USA, Canada, Germany and many more. These traffic jam costs the government around Rs 60000 crore a year due to fuel wastage, time delay etc. If everyone uses fully autonomous cars, there would be no traffic rules violations, no illegal road crossing, no traffic lights jump etc, so there will be smooth traffic flow and much time and money would be saved.

Productive use of driving time: “Time is money”. According to a Times of India survey, an average Indian spends about 18 days in a year behind the steering wheel. That is a lot of time wasted in driving. If one could use this time, much productivity could come out. Self driving cars could provide that too.

Self Driving Vehicles: Good idea or a bad idea?

Vehicle life and fuel efficiency: Human efficiency while driving is much less. Improper acceleration, deceleration, braking, gear shifts etc would wear out the car transmission parts. A computerized control would do a better task in these areas and hence a high vehicle life would result. This could also increase the fuel efficiency of the vehicle because of steady and identical aerodynamic effects on every car on the road.

Aid for elderly people and disables people: How many times have you wanted to go out in a car, but couldn’t due to lack of driving ability and no person to drive you there? There are no such problems if you have a self driving car. Self driving cars would facilitate the travel of elderly people and disabled people. With aging, reflexes and eyesight become weak. Self driving car would pose as a boon for them.

Self Driving Vehicles: Good idea or a bad idea?

Unemployment: But this is India; there are more people than it can feed. According to statistics, around 18 million people are unemployed in India. According to a case study, around 17 Million people are employed in road transport sector. If all the vehicles are replaced by driverless vehicles, unemployment would rise up to double of its current value. Not only drivers, but traffic police would be jobless. This poses a huge problem for India. “How can we allow such self driving vehicles when we already have a huge amount of unemployed people?” this statement was given by our current minister of road transport and highways, Mr Nitin Gadkari.

Fault in technology: Well, whatever the advantages discussed are based on an ideal driverless vehicle. But there is a potential for technology to go wrong. Driverless cars are based on programming and machine learning. Those codes are to be written by humans. There are possibilities of codes to have some bugs or glitches. Even if the vehicle performs well at first, it may happen that there are some bugs in the update the company provides. So there is a possibility of technology going wrong.

Privacy concerns are major these days. Threats for crimes and safety are increasing due to privacy leak these days. People can track you through GPS and follow you; they can have a track where you are and where you are headed to. And if a software drives your car, it becomes easier for the car to get hacked. Though the company would provide high security but software is always vulnerable to hack despite of all securities.

Self Driving Vehicles: Good idea or a bad idea?

Expensive: The most important aspect that would come in India’s way of self driving cars is cost. Software and hardware for self driving cars would cost a lot to the customer. The most sold car in India in July 2017 is Alto. It cost around Rs 2.8 lakh. This is what an average Indian wants to spend on cars. Most people want to have a car under Rs 8 lakh. Hence self driving car won’t have much market in its initial period.

Many more pros and cons can be listed in this subject, but the important ones that would affect the most are listed above. A self driving car has lots of pros and cons. To solve the unemployment problems, driverless technology can be used only as an aid to driver or an assistant to driver. But this won’t solve traffic problems. Hence if we try to eliminate one disadvantage, it would also eliminate one advantage too. So we cannot come to an absolute consensus with this topic of whether to have a driverless environment or to have the system as it is right now.

Cinema and Censorship

Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Friday, 4th August 2017 members of Cutting Edge Visionaries met for the first group discussion of the new academic year. The discussion was focused on Censorship of Cinema in India and its comparison with that of the other film industries.

The discussion was initiated with a thought that censorship captivates a movie’s idea within certain limits. It does not allow people to express their thoughts freely. Sometimes the board orders the filmmakers to remove many parts of the film that takes away the essence of the movie. Sometimes the message to be conveyed gets faded and it does not create the impact on the audience as it was meant to.

It was pointed out that what people call “Censor board” is actually the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Their work is actually to provide a certificate to the filmmakers for the public display of the film. Other most important task of the board is to categorize the film according to the content of the film and the age groups that could receive it without any harm.

Sometimes to earn more money, the film makers try to display some high brutal violence and some ill content that may not be perceived satisfactorily by certain people. Such graphic scenes are trimmed by the CBFC and in such way it can be helpful. One cannot directly attack on a certain group or cult, even some specific religion should not be directly disgraced on the name of entertainment. The CBFC looks after all these and takes necessary actions. It is not always that the board bans a movie because of the aggressive content. Certain movies having extreme violence are also released with an adult certification as long as it does not harm the religious beliefs of people. In a way the CBFC filters the movies and categorizes them for the public.

On the other hand, some great movies like “Lipstick under my Burkha” gets a ban. Cinema is all about the reflection of what is happening in the real world, how the society works and what needs to be improved. It feels like the film makers are being deprived of this and are in some way forced to produce the same kinds of drama films. Some members felt that the reason behind this could be corruption and politics. Politics play a major role in every aspect of the nation, directly or indirectly. Hence it is possible that certain interests of any political leader may influence the decisions of the board.

Comparing to Indian film industry, the censorship of other international film industries is much more lenient. They allow the free minded thoughts of the film makers to be carved in a movie. You may see aggressive contents in those movies. But when those movies come to India, the scenes are directly removed and many dialogues are muted. Sometimes the length of movie is drastically reduced due to this and the story seems to be off. This snatches away the essence of the movies.

The discussion was concluded with agreement of all the members that we do need a censor board but also there is something much wrong with it. India being a diverse country, everyone cannot digest everything we show them. There may be opposition by some group of people while the others may like it very much. Hence we do need a censor board. But the system seems to be not working up to its efficiency. Certain factors are holding it back and some wrong decisions are being passed by the board. Hence the board should come up with some technique to pass decisions such that the message of the movie is not curbed. After all cinema is the most popular form of communication to show the society’s reflection.

Differential – A hidden wonder of automobile

Reading Time: 3 minutes

While driving a car have you ever wondered how does the engine drive the wheels? How only one engine drives all the wheels of the car? How does the system manage to transmit the power to the wheels? Let’s have a brief look under the hood and understand a very important concept of an automobile, that is “DIFFERENTIAL”.

Engineering of an automobile is a very vast subject. On an average, about 30,000 parts are used for the manufacturing of a single car. Hence to study automobile, the whole subject is divided into 6 major systems: Chassis, Engine, Transmission, Steering, Braking, Suspension. Differential is a part of Transmission system.

Main aim of transmission, as the name suggests is to transmit the power produced by the engine to the wheels so that the vehicle moves. A transmission in general consists of an input shaft, an output shaft, gears and a differential. The input shaft gets power directly from the engine, which is manipulated according to our needs by gears and finally the output shaft carries the final power.

The differential then comes into action. The differential transmits the the power produced by the output shaft sideways. differential-1.gif (9034 bytes)

As shown in the picture, the differential is situated between the two wheels and it transfers the motion of transmission shaft/output shaft to the rotary motion of the wheels. The transmission shaft rotates the driving pinion, which in turn drives the ring gear (crown wheel). This ring gear is attached to a small sun gear/side gear. This side gear is meshed via the differential pinion gear(planet gear). Both the side gears are connected to the half shafts(axle) connected to the wheels.

Why to use the side gears pinion assembly when we can directly connect the ring gear? Also this work seems to be easy. But this is not all a differential does. A differential is designed for a far more greater purpose.

Whenever an automobile turns, there is a difference in the speeds of the inner and the outer wheels.

Image result for differential automobile

As you can see, the outer wheel of the automobile has to travel a larger distance than the inner wheel in the same amount of time while turning. Hence the speed of outer wheel is more. This can be achieved by unequal and proportionate distribution of power to the wheels. The outer wheel needs more power than the inner wheel and this unequal but proportionate distribution of power is done by the differential.

Differential - A hidden wonder of automobile

The inner half shaft in the figure indicated the part of the shaft connected to the inner wheel while the outer half shaft to the outer wheel. Both the shaft move in anticlockwise direction when moving on a straight road. Hence the power is distributed equally and both the side gears hence the shaft rotate at same speed.

While turning, both shafts do rotate in the same direction. The outer wheel has to move at higher speed than the inner wheel. This produces a couple moment at the differential pinion. This force drives the pinion gear to rotate. Due to this rotation, the side gear of the outer shaft rotates at a rate higher than the inner wheel. The side gear of outer shaft gets an additive rpm while the inner shaft gets a subtractive rpm. Hence due to this production of different speeds in both the wheels, the system is called a differential.

Hence for different turns, different torque is applied on the differential pinion and according powers are provided to the wheels. This was the basic information about differential and transmission. Further the differentials are classified into different types differentials like open differential, locking differential, limited slip differential, electronically controlled limited slip differential, torque vectoring differential etc. But for basic understanding of the differential, this much knowledge is enough.

Discussion on Impact of Automation on Jobs

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The CEV members met on the 24th of March, 2016 for a general discussion on the impact of automation on the current market status. The discussion covered many broad aspects, problems and even probable solutions. Here is the brief conclusion of the discussion.

 

Impact of Automation on Jobs

“Automation”, what a beautiful word! Where don’t we find automation? There was a time when men were needed to forward our message to some other person using telegraph. But today we can do that in minutes by simply typing and tapping on the send button. Such a major relief on our side! But what happened to the man whom we used to give our message to forward?

Today we all are so engaged for our comforts that we are overlooking the price we actually are paying for it, unemployment. People are being continuously replaced by the automated machines for the simplest works too. Two decades ago this problem was not found to be on such a large scale, but from the past few years we see a whole lot of unemployed people all over the world due to technological advancements. This problem has reached to such an extent that it has got its own term “TECHNOLOGICAL UNEMPLOYMENT”. 

Industrial sector is marching towards full automation. But it is indeed needed. Machines are developed to reduce human efforts and they are exactly doing that. A person doing some job has a higher chance of making a mistake than a machine. Also the machine does a job faster than a human. If I can read news anywhere through my mobile phone, why would I open up a newspaper? A machine always does things which it is told to do. It does not have feelings(hopefully) and so it would do that work in spite of the conditions.

Robots and Jobs.png

For a country, unemployment plays a vital role in underdevelopment of the country. It increases the poverty and decreases the literacy rate of the country. Also the per capita income decreases. A purchase of 10-20 machines in an industry leads to hundreds of people losing their jobs. With the advancements in Artificial intelligence, the time is not long that for each and every job man would be replaced. Dooms day comes nearer and nearer with the increasing robots.

But we can’t stay forever in the stone age. With increasing laziness, people come up with new and new ideas for becoming lazier. Technological advancements cannot be stopped. But it can be limited. Why would we want to make a human like robot when we have overpopulation in the country? Such high advancements leads to people losing jobs on much larger scale and also it increases the fear of bots taking over human population.

technological_unemployment.png

The technological advancements are inevitable but they should be made in such a way that the unemployment caused due to it is least. Automation leading to short scale or short term unemployment can be entertained, but not the larger ones. Machines are supposed to be developed to decrease human effort not to completely remove it. For example, auto rickshaws replaced the cycle rickshaws that decreased the effort of the driver but it did not make him unemployed. Invention of cars or taxis can also be entertained as there is a need of a driver in that, but driver less cars is way too much. An industry should not replace ten humans with a single machine, but it should bring in machines that reduces the production time and increases the quality of product drastically but need humans for its operation.

The technological unemployment may become the biggest global issue in the near future. Hence we need to make sure to apply brakes on the journey of automation at regular intervals and always have the control in our hand. A limited progress in the technology to reduce human efforts and increase their comforts should be there but it also has to take into view the betterment of the workers who were previously working in place of that technology.

CEV - Handout