UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Material| Science and Tech Current Affairs | Robotics, AI, and others – Part 2

Dear Friends,

This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered the Science and tech current affairs of the Robotics, AI, and others section. This post covers the current affairs of September, October 2021 and April 2022 months.


Science and Tech Current Affairs 2021-22

Robotics, AI, and others

To Read Other Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC Prelims 2022Click here


White Light-Emitting Diodes

News

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have successfully developed a white light emitter for use in LEDs.

About LED (Light-Emitting Diodes)

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current is passed through it.

LEDs and white light

Conventional LED materials cannot emit white light and specialised techniques, such as coating blue LED with yellow phosphor and combining blue, green and red LEDs, have been used to produce white light.

Hence, there has been a worldwide search for materials that can directly emit white light rather than through these indirect techniques that can cause loss of efficiency.

About the white light emitter

Researchers at the IIT Madras have successfully developed a white light emitter for use in LEDs.

They have developed this by exploring crystalline materials called ‘Halide-Perovskites’. These materials have extraordinary optoelectronic properties and excellent light-to-current conversion efficiencies.

Significance

These indigenously-developed bright white light emitters can potentially replace the conventional high-cost materials and phenomenally save the energy cost per lumens.


Security ink based on nano-materials to combat counterfeiting

News

Indian Scientists have indigenously developed a highly stable and non-toxic luminescent security ink from nano-materials that will help combat counterfeiting of currency notes, medicine, certificates, documents and branded goods.

About Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting means to imitate something authentic with the intent to steal, destroy or replace the original for use in illegal transactions.

Counterfeiting of branded goods, banknotes, medicines, certificates, currency and other important documents is very common all over the world.

Tackling of counterfeiting at present

Currently, Luminescent ink is used as covert tags to combat counterfeiting.

Most of the security inks available today are based on luminescent materials that absorb a high-energy photon and emit low-energy photons, technically called downshifting. This covert tag is invisible under daylight, and it becomes visible under UV light.  However, these single emission-based tags are prone to replication.

To overcome this, luminescent ink with excitation-dependent luminescent properties (downshifting and upconversion) is advised.

This is because increasing the number of parameters required to decode the tag decreases the possibility of decoding and replication.

However, most of the materials reported recently for this purpose are based on fluorides, which are less stable and highly toxic.

About the luminescent security ink

To address the above challenge, Indian Scientists have developed a luminescent security ink from nano-materials. This ink is highly stable, less toxic and has excitation-dependent luminescent properties.

Hence, this ink has huge potential to combat counterfeiting and the common man can find out easily whether the document or product is original or fake.


Mechanized Scavenging System

News

CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute is developing a Mechanized Scavenging System.

About the Mechanized Scavenging System

A Mechanized Scavenging System is being developed with the aim to eliminate human contact with faecal waste.

Key Features CSIR-CMERI Mechanized Scavenging System

The system focuses upon Sustainable Usage of water. This means that the system sucks in Slurry Water from the choked Sewerage Systems.

The slurry is the thin mixture of an insoluble substance such as cement, clay, or coal with a liquid such as water or oil.

This slurry water is then purified and filtered to make it suitable for Agricultural, Household and Drinking Water usage.

Significance of this system

Drinking-Water Scarcity problem is prevalent in Flood-Affected regions can be solved by this system as it will help in providing an outlet for flood stagnated water, as well as provide Water Purification solutions in Flood Disaster Zones.


Ubreathe Life

News

IIT Ropar’s startup company has developed a living plant-based air purifier, “Ubreathe Life” that amplifies the air purification process in indoor spaces.

About Ubreathe Life
Ubreathe Life
Source: Times of India

Ubreathe Life is the world’s first, state-of-the-art ‘Smart Bio-Filter’ that can purify the air.

It amplifies the air purification process in indoor spaces. These indoor spaces can either be hospitals, schools, offices and your homes.

Developed by: IIT Ropar, which is a designated iHub – AWaDH (Agriculture and Water Technology Development Hub) of the Department of Science and Technology.

Working of Ubreathe Life

The technology works through the air-purifying natural leafy plant. The room air interacts with leaves and goes to the soil-root zone where maximum pollutants are purified.

The technology used in this product is the ‘Urban Munnar Effect’ along with patent-pending “Breathing Roots” to exponentially amplify the phytoremediation process of the plants.

Note: Phytoremediation is a process by which plants effectively remove pollutants from the air.

Significance of the device

‘Ubreathe Life’ effectively improves indoor air quality by removing particulate, gaseous, and biological contaminants while increasing the oxygen levels in the indoor spaces.

This is done through specific plants, UV disinfection, and a stack of Pre-filter, Charcoal filter, and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter fitted in a specially designed wooden box.


Acoustic Energy

News

An Indian researcher has fabricated paper honeycomb and stronger polymer honeycomb structure as sound-absorbing panels that dissipate acoustic energy to low-frequency ranges.

Significance of this research

Many traditional materials have been found to be good at controlling higher frequencies, but not at lower frequency ranges.

However, natural beehives have been found to efficiently control high as well as low frequencies because of their geometry. This behaviour was owing to the conversion of acoustical energy into vibration energy. This vibration energy is dissipated in the form of heat due to wall damping properties.

Hence, mimicking this property as an engineering solution could offer a cost-effective method for controlling noise pollution.

About Acoustic Energy

Acoustics is the branch of physics that is concerned with the study of sound.

Acoustic energy is the disturbance of energy, which passes through a material in the form of waves. An example of acoustic energy is sound energy. When sound travels through any medium, it produces vibrations in the form of waves.


Low-C Bricks

News

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science(IISc) have developed an energy-efficient carbon brick called ‘Low-C Bricks’.

About Low-C Bricks

Low-C Bricks are low carbon bricks developed using construction and demolition waste (CDW) and alkali-activated binders.

These bricks do not require high-temperature firing. They also avoid the use of high-energy materials such as Portland cement.

Note: Portland cement is the most common type of cement in general use around the world as a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar etc.

Reason for developing Low-C Bricks

Conventionally, building envelopes consist of masonry walls built with burnt clay bricks, concrete blocks, hollow clay blocks, fly ash bricks, and lightweight blocks. Most of these technologies spend energy during their production, incurring carbon emissions.

Similarly, the masonry units are manufactured either through the process of firing or using high-energy carbon binders, mainly Portland cement. Further, the annual consumption of bricks and blocks in India is about 900 million tonnes.

Benefits of Low-C Bricks

Low-C Bricks solves the disposal problems associated with the construction and demolition waste (CDW).

These bricks also use very low energy in producing them when compared to the high energy used in producing burnt clay bricks.


Super-hydrophobic cotton

News

Recently, researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, have developed a new class of super-hydrophobic cotton composite with Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) that promise marine oil-spill clean-up in near future.

Features of the new cotton material

First, this is a novel, highly porous and water-repellent super-hydrophobic cotton composite material containing MOF, which can absorb oil selectively from an oil-water mixture.

Second, the MOF composite has great capability for selective separation of the oils from oil / water mixtures. The separation efficiency is very high irrespective of the chemical composition and density of the oils.

Third, the MOF composite is also able to absorb large volumes of oils and can be reused for a minimum of 10 times so that the sorbents can provide more recovery of the spilled oil.

Fourth, the new cotton will help in cleaning the spilled oil from environmental water (river, sea or ocean water) during oil transportation, thus reducing environmental water pollution.

Fifth, both heavy and light oils can be effectively absorbed by the material.

Sixth, the material is easy to prepare, cost-effective and recyclable.

Seventh, MOFs are a class of compounds containing metal ions coordinated to organic ligands to form 3D structures. They are often highly porous materials that act like a sponge.

Eighth, the medical cotton changes from hydrophilic to super-hydrophobic material and can float on the water surface.


Solar DC Cooking System

 News

Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (also known as CSIR-CMER) has developed a Solar DC Cooking System.

About the Solar DC Cooking System

Solar DC Cooking System is a Solar Energy based Cooking System that consists of a solar PV panel, charge controller, battery bank and cooking oven.

Benefits of this System

Solar DC Cooking System has 20-25% better efficiency and is more Economical in comparison with Conventional Solar based Cooking Systems which loses efficiency owing to AC-DC conversion.

The system can also substantially curb carbon dioxide emissions, as even LPG usage emits CO2. It may help save 290 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Moreover, its simple design ensures ease of manufacturing and thus provides a substantial economic opportunity to micro-industries.

About AC and DC

Alternating Current (AC) is a type of electrical current, in which the direction of the flow of electrons switches back and forth at regular intervals or cycles. Current flowing in power lines and normal household electricity that comes from a wall outlet is alternating current.

On the other hand, Direct current (DC) is an electrical current that flows consistently in one direction. The current that flows in a flashlight or another appliance running on batteries is a direct current.


Substitute for single-use plastic

News

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc) have found a way to make a substitute for single-use plastic that can help mitigate the problem of accumulating plastic waste in the environment.

About the new material developed by IISc

Researchers have developed polymers using non-edible oil and cellulose extracted from agricultural stubble.

These polymers can be moulded into sheets having properties suitable for making bags, cutlery or containers.

The material so made is also biodegradable, leak-proof and non-toxic.

Significance of this development

Alternative to Single-Use Plastic: Due to the harmful impact of single-use plastic on the environment, this material can become a substitute for single-use plastic.

Usage of Agriculture Stubble: Using agriculture stubble for the replacement of single-use plastics will not address the problem of air pollution. But it will generate additional income opportunities for farmers.

Can be used in Healthcare Facilities: As the material is biodegradable and non-toxic, researchers are planning to use the material for healthcare applications also.

Need to find an alternative to plastic

According to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board of India, for the year 2018-2019, 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated by Indians.

Another alarming statistic is that of all the plastic waste produced in the world, 79% enters the environment. Only 9% of all plastic waste is recycled.

Accumulation of plastic waste is detrimental to the environment and when this waste finds its way into the sea, there can be major harm to aquatic ecosystems too. Hence, there is a need to find an alternative to substitute the use of plastic.


Flex Fuel Vehicles(FFV)

News

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said the government would soon make it mandatory for all vehicle manufacturers to make flex engines (that can run on more than one fuel).

About the Flex Fuel Vehicles(FFV)

Flex Fuel Vehicles(FFV) is a modified version of vehicles that could run on a blend of petrol and ethanol.

In these vehicles, both fuels are stored in a common tank. The resulting blend is burnt in the combustion chamber, generating power for the vehicle.

Advantages of Flex Fuel Vehicles

Reduced dependence on petrol/diesel and thus reduced dependence on oil imports.

Ethanol burns more cleanly than conventional petrol, which reduces the car’s carbon footprint.

Helps in addressing the problems of surplus food grains (These can be used in making Ethanol).

Less costly: Alternative fuel ethanol is Rs 60-62 per litre while petrol costs more than Rs 100 per litre in many parts of the country, so by using ethanol, Indians will save Rs 30-35 per litre.

Disadvantages of Flex Fuel Vehicles

Customer acceptance will be a major challenge since the cost of ownership and running costs are going to be very high compared with 100% petrol vehicles.

Engine damage: Ethanol can also, unfortunately, cause corrosion and damage to the engine, mainly because it absorbs dirt easily.

Flex Fuel Vehicles will cost more as they will require several engineering tweaks to new engines, with corrosion-resistant rubber hoses and pipes.

Less Fuel Efficiency: Ethanol evaporates faster, so it is much harder to store. It burns better, but it also burns quicker, which means compromised fuel efficiency. However, it has higher octane than petrol and therefore provides increased power and performance.


 

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