Global IT consulting and product engineering service provider, KPIT Technologies recently concluded the fifth edition of the KPIT Sparkle event at the Pimpri Chinchwad College of Engineering (PCCOE), Pune. The annual event for young engineering and science students revolves around developing new and innovative solutions that are tailored to a problem statement and have a higher social impact on sustainability.
The 2019 KPIT Sparkle event was put together in association with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India; NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), India Design Council and the National Institute of Design as its knowledge partners. It is pertinent to note that over the last five years KPIT Sparkle has recorded around 6,000 entries from over 50,000 students across the country.
Themed ‘Energy and Mobility for the Future’, the 2019 edition of KPIT Sparkle sought futuristic solutions that are based on new and innovative technologies to solve problems in renewable energy generation, energy storage, energy utilisation and clean, safe, shared, connected and secured mobility. This year, KPIT Sparkle attracted entries from more than 22,000 students from over 1,100 colleges across India, submitting over 2,000 ideas.
At this year’s grand finale, the top 30 teams presented their working prototypes for solutions created to solve specific problems. The top entries on display were evaluated by a panel of eminent industry experts and academicians, including the likes of Padma Vibhushan Dr RA Mashelkar, Chairman, Innovation Council, KPIT; Dr Peter F Tropschuh, Vice President, Strategy Sustainability, AUDI AG; and Dr Ashish Lele, Chief Scientist and Former Chair, Polymer Science Engineering Division, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, among others.
One could see the unbridled passion among the young science and engineering students as they diligently worked on developing solutions for the defined problem statement. Ideas such as transparent solar technology that replaces or laminates any surface to generate energy, or a team that was looking to address the problem of inefficient and energy intensive production methods of activated carbons using a single stage self-sustaining production process using coconut shells, were not just innovative but had the potential to be implemented in real-world scenarios.
CRÈME DE LA CRÈME
A total cash prize of Rs 16 lakh was on offer along with incubation opportunities at the Centre for Innovation Incubation & Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad; Incubation Cell – IIT Madras; Science and Technology Park, BHAU Institute and Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Linkages (CIIL), Savitribai Phule University.
Team Aqua from Pune-based Army Institute of Technology won the platinum award of Rs 10 lakh for its vertical axis water turbine (VAWT). The team redesigned a vertical axis water turbine that proved to be 24 % more efficient than a conventional system. The VAWT can be used for small and large-scale energy generation in varying flow conditions.
Two teams bagged the silver prize, each worth Rs 2.5 lakh. Team Gravity from the Bharat Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai won the silver prize for designing a scalable plant-based microbial fuel cell technology. This solution had the capability to produce electricity and eliminate dependence on climate for renewable energy generation.
Team AutoTrac from the College of Engineering, Indore, was the other team to clinch the silver award. Team AutoTrac worked on a driverless tractor that saves on labour cost, time and manual labour. The team was funded by a farmer to improve the productivity on his farm using the driverless tractor that can be controlled with a remote.
Team Drivetrain from Pune-based Jayawantrao Sawant College of Engineering won the most popular innovation award for designing a novel transmission system (single stage gear box). The single stage gear box system holds the potential to increase the load carrying capacity and gradeability of existing e-vehicles. And to win this award, teams had to participate in an online voting contest. Team Drivetrain received more than 11,000 votes for its project, walking away with a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.
While only four teams were awarded, there were many teams that had credible ideas and worked on some interesting innovations. For instance, Team DuoPole developed an electric engine that is capable of mimicking the movement of an IC engine. The advantage of this engine is that it can be developed using the existing parts of an IC engine, making it possible to retrofit the set-up on any conventional fuel-driven vehicle.
Team Brainiacs came up with another creative idea, working on a hybrid solar still. The team developed a system, which separates fresh water from brackish or saline water and can be operated in outdoor and indoor environments. The system is more efficient than an RO system and reduces water wastage. It also uses waste heat energy from the refrigerating unit to achieve evaporation and condensation.
Even as many teams developed solutions in the EV space, Team Redox stood out with its vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB). The solution provides advantages such as disintegration of energy storage and power generating materials, unlimited charge holding capacity, design flexibility, low maintenance cost, long cycle life, high efficiency and safety over other batteries. The VRFB battery uses synthesised activated carbon (AC) from bio-waste, sugar cane bagasse that acts as a catalyst to enhance overall performance.
The event this year witnessed a massive footfall and also brought about a platform that would further facilitate the industry-academia connect. Out of the 30 projects on display, a majority of these had shaped-up well to become marketable solutions. The jury members present on the occasion were also elated to see the simple and clever solutions that solved real-life problems. Further, many members were also optimistic that such a platform will only grow and see an increased level of participation in the future.
Ravi Pandit, Co-founder, Chairman & Group CEO, KPIT said the Sparkle event is an endeavour that seeks to provide an opportunity to young and aspiring minds to explore and apply new technology trends. The event is a manifestation of the company’s efforts to achieve sustainability, he noted. Pandit stated that the Sparkle initiative will play a pivotal role in contributing towards a new vision that reimagines mobility within an ecosystem, thus paving the way for a cleaner, smarter and safer world.
TEXT: Joshua David Luther