Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan on Saturday launched a set of new crackers that promises to help reduce particulate emissions by 30 per cent while producing the same level of light and sound effects of traditional fireworks.

The new firework, which covers popularly used sound-emitting crackers, flowerpots, pencils, chakkar and sparklers, are based on formulations developed by a consortium of eight laboratories under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) led by Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.

Launching the `green’ crackers at a press conference, Harsh Vardhan said the crackers would be available at the same cost as the traditional ones. “Some of them may even be cheaper,” he said.

He noted that about 230 firework manufacturers had signed the memorandum of understanding for using the formulations developed by CSIR scientists. Of them, 165 have gone further and have also entered into a non-disclosure agreement.

CSIR had taken up the project to develop eco-friendly crackers in the wake of directions of the Supreme Court restricting the use of fireworks to address the growing problem of pollution in different parts of the country.

The project adopted a two-pronged approach. While one stream of activity was focussed on improving the traditional crackers through reduction in the level of Barium Nitrate, which is the main villain, the second pathway aimed at replacing Barium Nitrate with a more benign Potassium Nitrate.

As part of the exercise, the scientists also set up a new facility that could be used by manufacturers to characterise the raw material and analyse the compositions of the chemicals used in fireworks.

The Minister said that the new and improved crackers had been demonstrated to manufacturers and their associations such as Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association and Indian Fireworks Manufacturers Association, besides the Central Pollution Control Board and Petroleum And Explosives Safety Organisation, which is responsible for controlling transport, storage and usage of all explosive materials,

Besides National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, the consortium consisted of Central Electrochemical Engineering Research Institute, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, National Chemical Laboratory, Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute, National Botanical Research Institute and Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute.

Harsh Vardhan said the new set of crackers would have a prominent green logo to differentiate them from the conventional ones. Further, it would carry QR code for monitoring. Scanning of the code would provide all information about the product, including the chemicals and the process used.

Twitter handle: @ndpsr

(India Science Wire)