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Paddy Waste for Supercapacitor-Based Energy Storage in India

Eco-friendly technology to upcycle paddy waste to manufacture raw materials for industrial applications is being developed by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras). With the technology, farmers will gain another source of income as paddy waste can be used to produce energy devices that can be used by industries. This approach has the potential to significantly reduce the practice of burning stubble and other forms of agricultural waste in North India, according to a statement.

Through their research, the team is promoting a new ‘Farm-Energy Synergy’ that involves utilising organic waste, specifically kitchen waste, to create useable activated carbon, a critical element in producing supercapacitors. Supercapacitors offer numerous advantages to consumers in various industries such as electronics, energy, and agriculture. They have the potential to promote self-sufficiency in the supercapacitor. Self-reliance in the field of supercapacitors and supercapacitor-based energy storage technology will boost IP generation and employment within the country.

An official said that the solution that the Institute is identifying is a well-defined process. It will allow for the conversion of paddy waste of the country to commercial standard carbon material and the use of the activated carbon to fabricate supercapacitors that comply with the market standard. The material will be implemented in the form of a suitable supercapacitor-based hybrid energy storage device. It will also enable the achievement of several government projects, including the Paris Agreement on climate change, the COP26 summit, Mission 2070, and the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols.

Currently, the amount of paddy waste generated in the country is 76 million metric tons per year. Farmers consider burning straw as the most low-cost and efficient alternative to tailing the straw into the soil. However, this practice leads to significant pollution and ecological issues. Additionally, burning diminishes the potential use of biomass. The estimated loss for India alone is approximately IN 926 billion (US$ 11.2 billion) associated with this approach to farm waste management.

IIT-Madras researchers have already demonstrated the conversion of bio-waste into biomass (such as vegetable waste) to activated carbon and have used it to make supercapacitor electrode materials. The same technology can be adapted to render paddy waste valid for activated carbon production. The plan is to use the approach being followed to make activated carbon and explore scales of production.

A representative from the Institute explained that agriculture continues to be at the heart of India’s economy. This breakthrough technology that converts biomass such as paddy waste into activated carbon, will have a significant bearing on health, the environment and the economy. The Institute is looking for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) partners to help scale up the project and benefit the country at large.

To promote sustainability, in December, IIT-Madras developed an ocean wave energy converter that can generate electricity from sea waves. As OpenGov Asia reported, it targets generating 1 megawatt of power from ocean waves within the next three years. The product has been named Sindhuja-I, which means ‘generated from the ocean.’

The project will help achieve several objectives, including goals set in the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and India’s targets to carry out deep-water missions, promote clean energy, and achieve a blue economy.


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