Winning idea at IIT-KGP hackathon: Rusted nails could be the solution to arsenic contamination in groundwater

Arsenic contamination in groundwater in parts of India, including West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh in the flood plain of the Ganga; as well as Assam and Manipur in the flood plains of the Brahamaputra and Imphal rivers is said to be one of the greatest calamities in the world. The good news is, universities could be instrumental in finding solutions to deal with the problem

Use of rusted nails for the adsorption (when atoms, ions or molecules from gas, liquid or dissolved stick to a surface) of arsenic at a minimal cost of Rs 2,000 per household has been advocated by a team of postgraduate students and research scholars from the School of Water Resources, Jadavpur University (Debdas Chowdhury, Saurabh Kumar Basak and Priyabrata Mandal).

The team was the winner of a Rural Drinking Water Technology Hackathon organised by the Rural Development Centre (funded by the Design Innovation Centre) of IIT Kharagpur (IIT- KGP).

The hackathon in which 13 teams from premier engineering institutes from eastern India participated sought cost-effective and innovative solutions to address challenges related to drinking water problems in rural India.

The second prize went to Usha Kumari, a Chemical Engineering student of IIT Kharagpur who devised a way to remove arsenic and flouride from water with alumina activated by sulphuric acid.

The third prize was jointly shared by a team from NIT Warangal for showing how plants could be used for phytoremediation, and an IIEST, Shibpur, team showed how electrocoagulation can be used to remove arsenic from water.

The winning technologies at the hackathon were discussed at the workshop on Rural Water Quality and Management held from May 14 to 16 at IIT Kharagpur, held jointly with the University of Edinburgh.

The winning teams will have their projects funded by the DIC and can work in association with IIT Kharagpur to further develop their ideas. They also won cash rewards amounting to Rs 60,000.

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