Researchers at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bengaluru, have developed a cost-effective polymeric electrochromic smart window that can store energy using hybrid transparent electrodes, as well as carry out transparency switching. “It has the potential of replacing the costly traditional smart windows in modern structures,” says a press release.

Electrochromic smart windows can aid in efficient power management. However, the high cost of such smart windows, especially the traditional ones made of tin-doped indium oxide (ITO), have resulted in limited market uptake.

CeNS has found a cost-effective solution by utilising a chemically synthesised conducting polymer, poly(o-methoxyaniline) or PMOANI, as an electrochromic layer over a low-cost transparent conducting electrode (ITO 60 nm/ aluminium mesh) to form a smart window. The scientists have set up a semi-automated production plant for the production of the hybrid transparent conducting electrodes (TCE).

“We are making a few more electrochromic smart window prototypes using our hybrid TCE to prove their capability with other materials. These transparent conducting electrodes can be made available to interested industries and R&D labs on a request basis,” says Dr Indrajit Mondal, one of the scientists involved in the project.

Micro-algal bio-refinery

Prof Kaustubha Mohanty of IIT-Guwahati’s Department of Chemical Engineering has developed an advanced micro-algal bio-refinery model that integrates wastewater treatment and high-value biofuel production via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), with domestic sewage sludge and micro-algal biomass as feedstock. This has resulted in 40 per cent bio-crude yield and properties comparable to petroleum crude

The research team has collaborated with organisations including IIT-Kharagpur, CSIR-IICT Hyderabad, and Technical University Denmark, to develop an advanced bio-refinery process. The industry partners for technology transfer include Purabi Dairy in Assam, Symbiosis Center Denmark, and HPCL, says a press release.

Compact air plasma torch

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has developed “a compact hafnium electrode air plasma torch” operating in the range of 30 kW and is readying for technology transfer to industry.

The device converts atmospheric air into a controlled jet of air plasma with a maximum core temperature around 9,000 K and electro-thermal efficiency of 60-plus per cent.

A thermal plasma jet is a high-temperature beam of concentrated thermal energy consisting of electrons, ions and neutrals. Such plasmas are naturally formed in the atmosphere during thunderbolts and observed as a bright flash in the sky. The key features of BARC’s compact device include low operational cost, simple design, use of cheapest gas (atmospheric air), high efficiency, high peak temperature, and ease of control, says the research centre.