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  • Sci. & Tech.
    ‘World’s first nano-material based water filter’


    Chennai, April 6: IIT-Madras is just about to release a water purifier using nanotechnology. “Technology used in the product is the very first and is home-grown. No nanoparticle based water filter exists in the world as of now,” says Dr T. Pradeep, Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Sophisticated Analytical Instrument Facility, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM).

    The filter uses technology developed by IITM, and is to be released by Eureka Forbes Ltd. It removes pesticides from drinking water by an unusual chemistry utilising metal nanoparticles, one learns. “There are several other nanotechnology efforts, but none have gone all the way to the market,” explains Dr Pradeep, in a recent interaction with Business Line.

    Excerpts from an interview.

    b>On the need for new technology in water purification

    Drinking water is getting increasingly contaminated. In addition, there is a problem of availability. While water availability is growing at 0.5 per cent annually, the demand is increasing by 10.5 per cent. Completely new technologies are needed for clean water and such technologies have stringent conditions. No/low energy demand, no environmental impact, lowest cost and adaptability to local conditions are some of those conditions. There is an urgent need to look at new approaches.

    On similar other problems.

    There are a number of problems of this kind (e.g. heavy metals), which may be tackled by nanotechnology, and there is a large business potential that can be harnessed. Problems themselves are changing with time. Many of the problems of contamination are man-made.

    On international market for nano that India can tap.

    In technologies such as the above, we could be ahead. And that means utilising markets abroad, as these problems exist throughout the world. On nanotechnology related products, we could supply materials to the world. Nanomaterials market itself is exponentially increasing. Any technology is possible only if there is material. These materials can have implications to agriculture, environmental decontamination, health, textiles, etc. Therefore, these can generate new opportunities.

    Who supported you in developing the technology?

    Any work in an institute like ours is done by students. This work was done by my former PhD student, Dr Sreekumaran Nair. Our work in nano is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). It has a Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative, with Prof CNR Rao as the Chairman. In fact whatever we do now in nano in the universities and institutes like ours is largely due to this initiative. I am immensely happy that this poor country where a large number of people don’t have enough to eat is supporting research. Funding in the nano area is increasing as there are well-meaning individuals at responsible positions in the DST and other organizations such as DBT.

    The IP?

    We have patents in the area and the rights are protected.

    What next?

    I would say that such technologies have to be available to people at affordable cost for tackling diverse problems. I want to clarify that nano does not mean increased cost. In fact, the cost comes down. We will be happy to interact with individuals, institutions and local governments to develop low cost nano solutions. We will be happy to waive the royalty benefits when it comes to the poor.

    Sci. & Tech.


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