International Energy Initiative,
Asian Regional Energy Initiative,
80-B Spencer Road, 2nd Cross, Fraser Town,
Bangalore 560 005,

+91 80 2555 3375

+91 80 2555 3375



The Asian Regional Energy Initiative of the IEI

Fellowship Programme:
         As a part of their curriculum, university engineering students have to carry out projects, guided by their professor(s), for a period of three months each.  Since the engineering colleges do not have resources to fund these projects, the students have to pay for the costs involved; this affects their selection of projects.  The Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST) has therefore been arranging for financial sponsorship for them through a student project programme (SPP).
         In accordance with IEIís mission to encourage technical capacity in the efficient production and use of energy, it was intended that our Regional Energy Initiative-Asia support some of these studentsí projects, specifically in the energy field, such as improved (efficiency of) devices, new application of existing devices, etc.  Accordingly, early this year we had discussions with KSCST.  A few of the projects were short-listed, on the basis of the descriptions in their proposals.  The following are summaries of three of the completed projects from the electrical, mechanical and chemical divisions, respectively.

Micro-controller based solar tracking system
         Students from the electrical engineering division have designed and developed a micro-controller based solar tracking system.  The objective of this project is to optimise the generation of electricity from solar PV panels.
         The solar tracking system has three-axes of motion in the whole solar console. The first is for the equinoctial (seasonal) orientation, the second for the locator (latitudinal) orientation and the third to follow the diurnal variation.  In order to continuously follow the sun, a PIC (Peripheral Interface Controller) micro-controller-based stepper motor drive has been incorporated in the system.  A built-in 24-hour digital clock program controls the stepper motor drive such that the tracking system starts rotation at 6.00 am, follows the sun during the day, and stops at 6.00 pm.  The panel returns automatically to its original position after 6.00 pm.
         At the laboratory scale, the performance of the solar tracking system has been found to be satisfactory, resulting in an increase of 35% to 40% in electricity generation. 

Test rig development for the use of vegetable oils in CI engines
         At the mechanical engineering division, students have developed a test rig for using vegetable oils in CI (compression ignition) engines. The objective is to substitute the vegetable oil in place of diesel with little or no modifications to the CI engines.
         The test rig was developed for a reconditioned diesel engine.  A rope brake dynamometer has been connected with flexible coupling to the engine.  An additional fuel tank with three-way fuel control valve and fuel measuring devices has been connected to the test rig.  A cooling arrangement for carrying water to the engine cylinder jacket and to the brake drum of the dynamometer has also been connected.
         Rice bran oil is used as a supplement to diesel oil and the performance of the engine was recorded and found to be satisfactory.  Because of the reduced emissions, the use of rice bran oil is preferable to that of diesel oil.

Photo-biological hydrogen production
           In the chemical engineering division, students have produced hydrogen from organic wastes using the bacteria rhodospirillum rubrum.
           The bacteria procured in a freeze-dried condition were cultured anaerobically in a suitable nitrogen-rich liquid medium.  The cultured bacteria in liquid media were acclimatized to the rich organic matter from the effluents of a distillery.  This bacterial action was carried out in a bio-reactor of 2 litre capacity, under lighting provided through a halogen lamp with a light intensity of 10,000 lux.  The gas produced was collected and measured using an inverted measuring cylinder.
           The hydrogen thus produced is at a rate of 1.7 ml per litre of waste per day.  However, typical anaerobic cultures could not cumulatively produce a mass amount of hydrogen gas because hydrogen is an intermediate for methane formation, and rapidly consumed by methane producing bacteria.  Hence in the next stage of the project, it is intended that the methanogens are restricted, for effective hydrogen production.