Details of the First EAI Green Chennai Meeting!!
Who We Are
EAI Green Chennai, a movement towards a greener and cleaner Chennai started by EAI, India’s leading renewable energy research and consulting firm got off to a great start with the first meet, held on the 26th of October in Adyar, ending successfully. The movement seeks to explore new, sustainable ideas and kickoff small activities towards making Chennai greener and more sustainable. It is not an independent effort by EAI, but a combined team effort of hundreds of volunteers who are involved in green activities all over the city.
Two eminent green environmentalists,Mr Dev Anand from Greenovation and Mr Engalsraja from “Vanagam” shared valuable thoughts as well as methods being practically used by their organizations to make Chennai sustainable.
To provide a little background on the expert speakers:
Dev Anand is theManaging Director of Greenovation India. He has two decades of solid experience in the field of water, solid waste management and waste to energy. He has developed many innovative indigenous technologies in these fields and is currently working on fuel cells and Bio fuel research programs. He also specializes in Carbon foot print auditing and holds a Diploma in Carbon Management. He was selected by the United States Department of State for the International Visitor Leadership Program on Climate Change and Clean Energy, which is a premier professional exchange program. He was also selected by the Israel Government on a Clean Tech exchange program. Indian Economic forum awarded him the Business Excellence Award.
Mr Engals Raja is the State Coordinator, for Tamil Nadu, for Vanagam, a non-profit organization which empowers people to enrich their lives and the environment by making certain life style choices based on ecological principles. When Raja came on board the Nammalvar Trust, he was looking for some structure that would enable his social activities to reach a greater mass of people. In 2005, Raja was involved in Tsunami relief work, helping farmers in Nagapattinam district rehabilitate. In 2008, he worked with the Trichy Corporation to convert their solid wastes to compost.
Dev has done a lot of work in the area of sustainable living in Pammal, a small town of 50,000. He took the audience through various sustainable initiatives being undertaken by Greenovation at Pammal and what he felt could be attempted in Chennai on a micro scale first.
Biogas plants in temples/ Project temple green
5 – 10 kg of waste is generated in an average small temple. This waste can be used to produce biogas through biomass conversion method. The biogas produced is used for preparing prasadam thus providing the twin benefits of reduced LPG use and reduced waste near the temple. This has beenimplemented in a small Ganesh temple in Pammal for the last 8 months. Through the power generated through this method, 5 -6 streets were lighted near the temple.
The installation of one 5 kg biomass plant is equivalent to planting 5 bamboo trees.
Domestic fuels / Electric stoves using briquettes as fuel
Waste can also be utilized for conversion into high density fuel briquettes by the process of briquetting. The process involves converting low bulk density biomass into high density and energy concentrated fuel briquettes.
Any organic waste when completely dried can be carbonized in a kiln. This process involves the burning of waste in the absence of oxygen. The resultant residue will be char powder. The carbonization process produces 30% to 45% char powder from the original biomass. The char powder is mixed with a suitable binder such as starch to enhance adhesion and to produce identical briquettes using a molding machine/ hand and drying.
The advantages of using this simple technology is that the briquettes burn without smoke, produce very less ash, have a high calorific value, are odorless and are clean and eco-friendly fuel.
The electric stoves using briquettes as fuel can provide heat for 1-2 hours. This method doesn’t completely eliminate LPG consumption but can reduce its usage significantly. 2, 5 and 10 kilo waste handling stoves are the models available that can be used in domestic households. This method wasn’t practically possible in the past due to the unavailability of biomass briquettes. Therefore, they started experimenting by first providing briquettes.
Source segregation is done by collecting all the garbage from Pammal and the prepared composite, sold under the name of Exnora. Around 20 tonnes of composite is produced per month. In-vessel composting can be adopted in various parks where it isn’t possible to install a biogas plant.
This is a different from recycling where plastic is fully converted into another product. It is done by first collecting small water plastic bags then washing, cutting and weaving them into threads and finally, turning them into fabric. Around 60 products like curtains, files, laptop bags, mobile pouches etc. are produced from these fabrics. This process has been effectively implemented in Thirukalukundram. It offers a number of advantages like:
- Creation of jobs for local women
- Reducing plastic pollution
- Saving energy
- Creation of eco-awareness
One of the biggest problems in Chennai is solid waste. Centralized W2E conversion is a failure since collecting the required amount of organic waste is an arduous process. A unit in Pammal uses250 kg of food waste to produce biogas through anaerobic digestion, which in turn is used to power a gas engine. It provides power (8 hours a day) for around 50 streetlights through 4 streets. Power generated is in the order of 35KW.
Mobile / Public bathrooms are largely ineffective in Chennai. There is no proper disposal system thereby letting the waste seep underground and pollute the groundwater. To prevent this from happening, sustainable toilets have been developed wherein sewage waste is transferred to a digester, processed and then used for flushing the toilets while ground water is pumped for washing hands. This project is still in the planning stages and could be ready for implementation in another 2-3months. If successful, it is quite scalable and could provide a long term solution.
Mr Engals Raja’s presentation largely revolved around the concept of individuals needing to maintain a sustainable “inside” (our body) before attempting to create a sustainable outside environment. In this context, he was critical of some of the methods adopted by western medicine practitioners. Some excerpts are provided below:
When does a baby start breathing?
According to Mr Raja, the respiration process is initiated when the baby has taken in its first breath of air (which acts as a catalyst). But medical gynaecologists, according to him, expound that babies would die if they’re not let out, immediately, once labour pains are experienced. This is a contradiction of facts, he went on to say.
Why are new, new medicines discovered?
In general, most medicines undergo the metabolism in the liver. New medicines discovered to cure a disease, when ingested will act to do just that. During the process of metabolism, however, Mr Raja’s explanation was that a small amount of the medicines are left unused which after sometime cause adverse reactions which lead to different diseases, and new medicines again!
If pregnancy isn’t a disease, then why do we visit doctors often during gestation?
Doctors give iron and calcium tablets to improve the health of the mother and the baby. Some doctors say the baby only grows if the tablets are taken by the mother.
Mr. Raja was of the opinion that this wrong. He exemplified his argument as below:
2 rats were selected and their legs, broken. One was given to a veterinary doctor and the other to an ordinary person. The veterinary doctor gives the rat tablets everyday to improve the bone density while the ordinary person gives his rat, nutritious food. The rat which took the tablets grew bigger in size but wasn’t able to walk after 10 days, while the other rat was able to walk after 10 days because of the nutritious food it was provided daily.
So his argument was that pregnancy is natural and not a disease;so why then, he asked, do we have tablets? The health of the mother and the child can be improved by having healthy food and fruits.
Why tablets are taken to suppress vomiting?
Vomiting occurs only when the ingested food causes some allergic reaction which shouldn’t be suppressed by anti – vomiting tablets, when suppressed the toxic substances will be excreted through fecal matter. So having anti – vomiting tablets must be avoided.
The first edition of EAI Green Chennai was a small but focused gathering that was lively with significant enthusiasm being shown by the participants. We had participants from all sectors of the society – from corporate such as Virtusa and Shriram Foams, from NGOs, housewives, elderly citizens and quite a few college students (Anna University, IIT).Around 25 people attended this event.
The informative and practical presentation, by Mr Dev Anand and the thought provoking speech by Mr Raja were thought to be very interesting and useful by the audience. The participants expressed that they would definitely share these innovative ideas with friends and family, thereby creating awareness.
EAI Green Chennai will be organizing many more such events where eminent environmentalists would share their sustainable ideas. The end objective would be to select certain ideas and start off in a small way, thus kicking off the endeavor to “green” Chennai.