India's 2010 TR35: Top Innovators Under 35
Manoj Kumar Mandelia, 23
A solution to deal with wastewater management and producing electricity.
In India, there is no policy which examines waste as part of a cycle of production-consumption- recovery. Waste management still is a linear system of collection and disposal, creating health and environmental hazards. Moreover, in India the energy supply is 40 percent short of the demand. Manoj Kumar Mandelia, a student pursuing integrated MTech from IIT Kharagpur, has conceived a solution to deal with both wastewater management and producing electricity.
"I developed a product which uses the concept of microbial fuel cell (MFC is a bio-electrochemical system that drives a current by mimicking bacterial interactions found in nature), which could not only treat wastewater, but also produce electricity in the process. LOCUS, which stands for localized operation of bio-cells using sewage, can achieve chemical oxygen demand (COD) reduction levels in wastewater to about 60-80 percent," explains Mandelia who heads a team of five people engaged in the Locus project.
Locus is a microbial fuel cell integrated with sewage treatment systems to treat wastewater and simultaneously generate electricity. "We have used a single chambered MFC for our Locus design. The electrical system has been efficiently designed to deliver and distribute power, while the mechanical design caters to filtering out the large, solid materials before the sewage enters the MFC," says Mandelia adding, "In terms of sustainability, our product stands out in three domains of environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Our business does not utilize any of the renewable sources faster than they can be regenerated. In fact, it leads to regeneration of energy and fresh water."
"When the world is moving towards green technologies, a project that reduces greenhouse emissions, and helps to earn carbon credits, is very significant. My understanding of the Locus is that it uses the universal bacterial metabolism in a unique engineering design to reduce the biological oxygen demand (BOD) and COD while simultaneously generating electricity from the electrons produced in the bacterial metabolism. The Locus is a sustainable development which, with proper implementation and execution, would not only address the two most pertinent issues in the world today - clean water and green energy - but would also have a social and economic impact in making the industry use their resources to an optimum level, generating means of livelihood, and educating the masses about the environment," says M. Ravindran, general manager, Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises, Bangalore.
The Locus is currently a lab scale model of 10 liters and has been tested in the Fermentation Technology Lab of IIT Kharagpur.