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May 24, 2018 (New Delhi)
Researchers have developed a new portable diagnostic instrument that can screen for all malaria strains within minutes.
The portable optical diagnostics system (PODS) prototype detects a byproduct generated by all species of the malaria parasite.
"With PODS, we can do rapid, broad population screening for malaria in low-resource environments," said Andrea Armani from the University of Southern California (USC) in the US.
"When combined with currently available therapeutics, this could represent a tipping point in the global fight against malaria," said Armani.
The PODS instrument was designed to solve the challenges limiting current systems, researchers said.
To minimise size, weight, and power requirements without sacrificing performance, every aspect was considered, they said.
The current prototype weighs fewer than 4.5kg, is 12 by 10 inches (the size of a large shoebox) and can be powered by a battery for eight hours.
In addition, PODS was designed to require minimal sample processing and handling, as well as eliminate the need for secondary chemicals with strict storage requirements.
This makes the device particularly suited to low-resource environments, researchers said.
The prototype can analyse an unprocessed, whole blood sample in 10-15 minutes.
With only 500 microlitres of blood (five to seven drops), it can achieve sensitivity levels needed for an early-stage diagnosis.
Malaria-infected mosquitoes infect human hosts with the parasite. Its primary nutrient source is hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells.
As the parasite digests hemoglobin, it creates what is known as heme as a byproduct.
"While heme is highly toxic to both the parasite and its host, the parasite has figured out a 'loophole' around this by aggregating heme into an insoluble nanocrystal known as hemozoin,? said Samantha McBirney, a PhD graduate at USC.
PODS has three primary components: a laser, a detector (to detect light), and a magnet.
When a sample of blood is placed between the laser and the detector, the amount of light that makes it to the detector decreases as the blood blocks it.
If hemozoin is present, even less light shines through, researchers said.
At high concentrations even in blood, it is readily apparent if hemozoin is present because the nanocrystal is very good at blocking light, they said.
May 25, 2018
The trials for the phase-I of a satellite-based early warning system, to alert road users against approaching trains at unmanned level crossings of the Indian Railways network, have been completed successfully, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials said on Thursday. They said that the system is ready for implementation.
"The trial for Phase-I has finished?We have begun discussions with them (Indian Railways). They are very satisfied with the technology. They have seen it performing. They have seen its variants and so they are going to implement it soon," said Tapan Misra, director of the Space Applications Centre (SAC), a crucial arm of ISRO.
Under the project, integrated circuit (IC) chips, developed by ISRO, will be installed on train engines. These chips will send a signal to hooters installed at the level crossings with the engine at a distance of four km from the crossing. These hooters, linked to the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NaVIC will become louder as trains approach the crossings and will fall silent once the trains have passed.
The Indian Express had earlier reported on the first trial run, conducted in February 2016, for developing this satellite-based system in Ahmedabad by SAC scientists. Later under the pilot project conducted on by the Indian Railways, these IC chips were installed on five trains, running on different routes. According to officials, the testing for the system has been underway for more than a year.
"This technology can work in any weather, including rains and harsh summer. This was one of the biggest challenges and we have emerged successful in all-weather operations," Misra added.
The SAC director said that four private companies working in coordination with ISRO will provide this technology to the Indian Railways. "We expect Railways will buy this system in large numbers. There are over 11,000 unmanned level crossings on the Indian Railways network and this technology will go a long way in securing the same," he added.
May 23, 2018 (New Delhi)
India has set in motion plans to revive talks on linking the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) pact of the World Trade Organisation to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) to check instances of biopiracy and misappropriation of traditional knowledge by global corporates.
Next month, India and a group of like-minded members of the WTO, including Brazil, South Africa and China, have planned a conference in Geneva on TRIPS, CBD and biopiracy to deliberate on ways to expedite talks on amending the TRIPS. The countries seek to bring in legislation such as benefit sharing and disclosure of source to stop biopiracy, a government official told BusinessLine.
"While the agenda of the on-going Doha round of the WTO clearly states that the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the UN Convention on biodiversity, the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore need to be looked at, the issue stands abandoned for the last few years. India and some other countries are determined to revive it and bring it back on the table," the official said.
In the past, attempts have been made in Europe and the US to patent medicinal properties of plants such as neem, turmeric and ashvagandha which have been used as traditional medicines in India for centuries. "While India was able to stop the patents from being granted, many such attempts are successful and clearly show the adverse effects that a patent monopoly over traditional knowledge can have on indigenous communities that hold such knowledge," the official said.
Source of origin
India wants that the TRIPS agreement should make it compulsory for patent applicants to disclose the source of origin of the biological resource and evidence of consent and benefit sharing with the traditional knowledge holder so that indigenous communities are not at a loss. Other WTO members which have been actively advocating the need to revive talks on TRIPS and CBD include Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, the African Group, the African-Caribbean-Pacific Group, Peru, and Thailand.
"There are a large number of developing nations that are interested in an effective global legal regime to check biopiracy as it is difficult to do so only through national laws. It is the developed countries that have been hindering the discussions. But the poorer countries are now determined to revive the talks as they are the worst victims of biopiracy," the official said.
India circulated a work programme on the relationship between TRIPS and CBD at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017. ?Although the work programme was not adopted it generated a lot of interested amongst members and we got many queries on the matter,? the official said.
May 21, 2018 (Balasore)
Currently, the Army is equipped with three regiments of Block 111 version of the missile.
Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was successfully fired from a test range along the Odisha coast to validate some new features.
The missile, an Indo-Russian joint venture, was tested from a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore at 10.40 a.m., Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials said.
The trial was conducted to validate its "life extension" technologies developed for the first time by DRDO and team BrahMos, said an official of the ITR.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratualated DRDO scientists and team BrahMos for the successful launch of the missile with new technology. "Smt @nsitharaman congratulates Team Brahmos & @DRDO-India for successful flight test carried out at 1040 hrs on 21 May 2018 from ITR, Balasore to validate BRAHMOS missile life extension technologies developed for the first time in India," her office said in a twitter post.
The successful test will result in huge savings of replacement cost of missiles held in the inventory of the armed forces, it said.
The two-stage missile - first being solid and the second one, a ramjet liquid propellant - has already been introduced in the Army and the Navy, while the Air Force version had witnessed asuccessful trial, the DRDO scientists said.
BrahMos variants can be launched from land, air, sea and under water. India successfully launched the world's fastest supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi-30 MKI combat jet for the first time against a target in the Bay of Bengal in November, 2017, they said.
At least two Su-30 squadrons with 20 planes each are planned to be equipped with the missile, which will be 500 kg lighter than the land/naval variants. The range of the three-tonne missile has been extendeed from its earlier 290 km to 400 km and the variant was successfully tested in March 2017, they said.
According to the scientists, increasing the missile's range from 400 km to further 800 km is now possible after India?s induction into the Missile Technology Control Regime in June 2016. Prior to that, India was bound by restrictions that limited the range of the missile, to less than 300 km.
Currently, the Army is equipped with three regiments of Block 111 version of the missile. Induction of the first version in the Navy began with INS Rajput in 2005. It is now fully operational with two regiments of the Army, said the scientists.
After two successful tests of the missile from INS Kolkata in June 2014 and February 2015, the test-firing from INS Kochi on September 30, 2015, validated the newly commissioned ship's systems. The air launch version and the submarine launch version of the missile system are in progress.
So far, the Army has placed orders for the missile which are to be deployed by three regiments.
May 21, 2018 (Delhi)
To prepare the Army, the Navy and the Air Force for next-generation warfare
In an ambitious defence project, the government has started work on incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the operational preparedness of the armed forces in a significant way, which would include equipping them with unmanned tanks, vessels, aerial vehicles and robotic weaponry.
The move, part of a broader policy initiative to prepare the Army, Navy and the Air Force for next-generation warfare, comes amid rising Chinese investments in AI - an area of computer science devoted to creating intelligent machines - for its military.
Task force at work
Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Defence Production, said the government had decided to introduce AI in all the three forces as it would be a "big area" considering the requirements of future warfare. He said a high-powered task force headed by Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran was finalising the specifics and framework of the project, which would be implemented in a ?partnership model? between the armed forces and the private sector.
"This [AI] is where the future is going to be. We need to prepare ourselves for the next-generation warfare which will be more and more technology-driven, more and more automated and robotised," he said.
Like many other world powers, India had also started work on the application of AI to boost the capabilities of its armed forces, Mr. Kumar said, adding that unmanned aerial vehicles, naval vessels, tanks and automatic robotic rifles as weapon systems would have an extensive use in future wars.
Military sources said the application of AI in border surveillance could significantly ease the pressure on armed forces personnel guarding the sensitive frontiers with China and Pakistan.
China has been pouring billions of dollars into AI research and machine learning. The U.S., Britain, France and the European Union are also investing significantly in AI. The U.S. has been carrying out successful operations targeting terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan and Northwest Pakistan using drones which operate with the help of artificial intelligence.
Mr. Kumar said the recommendations of the task force were likely to come in by June and then the government would take the project forward. The state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) would be a major player in the project, he said.
May 21, 2018
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-K) has set up first of its kind Centre for Energy Regulation (CER) in the country to strengthen policy and regulatory limitations in energy and power sector.
PK Pujari, chairperson, CERC unveiled the centre's logo and its web portal at the launch ceremony held in New Delhi on May 17.
Anoop Singh, an associate professor in the department of industrial and management engineering at IIT-K and the coordinator of CER, said the centre was set up with assistance of the UK Government. It would adopt innovative approach to engage with stakeholders in the power sector, especially the electricity regulatory commissions, electric utilities and the academia. The centre would also develop a regulatory database to enable stakeholders in taking more informed decisions. The online learning modules and tools would help enhance understanding of the regulatory and policy aspect for the beginners as well as advanced learners and the centre's output can later be accessed from its web portal cer.iitk.ac.in.
AK Bhalla, secretary, ministry of power, said the centre was expected to play a key role in providing independent advisory on the policy and regulatory matters. The sector would be benefited by the centre?s activities, particularly regulatory research based on its knowledge base comprising regulatory database and learning tools, he added.
Also present on the occasion were RC Bhargava, chairman, board of governors, IIT Kanpur and Gavin McGillivray, head of the department for international development (DFID) India.
May 18, 2018 (Bhavnagar)
The subsequent processes involve recovery of potash salts from the "lean" spent-wash, which then undergoes evaporation to yield recycled water and residues. The residues are further mixed with the organics recovered in the first stage.
For every litre of alcohol they produce from fermentation of sugarcane molasses, distilleries generate 10-15 litres of wastewater effluent or "spent-wash". The 300-odd molasses-based distilleries in India churning out 2.5-2.6 billion litres of alcohol annually, thus, also discharge 30-35 billion litres of this hazardous residual liquid, which, if disposed untreated, can contaminate surface and ground water.
The Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) here has developed a process to separate the main source of pollution - potash and biodegradable organic matter - from distillery spent-wash. This technology, it is claimed, will not only help distilleries comply with the Central Pollution Control Board?s mandated zero liquid discharge (ZLD) action plans, but also meet up to a tenth of India's potassium-based fertiliser requirements, now entirely met through imports. Further, it will encourage more distilleries to come up and produce ethanol for blending with petrol, cutting the country?s oil import bill and bringing sugarcane growers better returns.
The technology separates complex organic compounds from spent-wash through a coagulation process.
The subsequent processes involve recovery of potash salts from the ?lean? spent-wash, which then undergoes evaporation to yield recycled water and residues. The residues are further mixed with the organics recovered in the first stage. This generates valuable organic matter (which can be converted into animal feed formulations), potassium nitrate (fertiliser) and reclaimed water (reusable in the molasses fermentation process).
"The process yields 10 tonnes of complex organics, 2.5 tonnes of potassium nitrate and 75,000-80,000 litres of recycled water from every one lakh litres of spent-wash," says Pratyush Maiti, principal scientist at CSMCRI, a constituent of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
CSMCRI, which has filed a patent, has converted the process into a commercial-scale technology in collaboration with Chem Process Systems Private Ltd, an Ahmedabad-based firm. The process was scaled up and validated at a pilot plant attached to the distillery of Shree Kamrej Vibhag Sahakari Khand Udyog Mandli sugar factory near Surat in February 2017. The cattle-feed formulations produced have been found to be of "satisfactory palatability" by the National Dairy Research Institute in Karnal. The first full-fledged commercial plant using the technology is expected to be commissioned by Aurangabad Distillery Ltd (ADL) at Walchandnagar, Maharashtra, next December.
Distilleries in India currently manage their spent-wash mainly by converting it into manure by mixing the wastewater with press-mud, a residue from sugar mills. However, press-mud is available only during the 150-160 days when the mills are running, forcing the distilleries to limit their operations to the crushing season. A second option is to incinerate the wash after evaporation, but that is energy-intensive and wastes a potentially valuable resource.
May 17, 2018 (Guwahati)
Guwahati now has India's first railway station run by solar power. The project of installing solar panels was commissioned last year in April 2017.
Around 2352 solar modules with a capacity of generating 700 kwp has been set up over the roof of the Guwahati railway station. Solar panels have been installed at the roof-top solar power plant.
The solar-powered station is aimed at reducing carbon-footprint as well as cut down power costs drastically.
Around 6.3 lakh kg carbon dioxide emissions have been cut off between April 12 last year to May 10 this year.
The project cost is estimated to be Rs 6.7 crore, as per Indian Railways. The solar power plant will save Rs 67 lakh worth of electricity.
With an average power generation capacity per day is 2048 KWh, the solar panels till date have generated a total of 7,96,669 KWH of electricity.
May 16, 2018
President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated Integrated Centre for Crisis Management (ICCM) at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The ICCM will help nation to respond more effectively to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies. It will monitor radiological data from a network of 504 radiation sensors across the country. Other launches Multi-leaf collimator system: It has been developed by BARC. It is used radiotherapy as it enables gamma radiation to be exposed only on cancer-affected organs. Trombay Chhattisgarh Dubraj Mutant-1: It is high-yielding dwarf variety of Dubraj mutant rice. It is 43rd high-yielding crop variety developed by BARC.
President Kovind also remotely inaugurated three other nuclear facilities of Department of Atomic Energy (DEA). They are Metal fuel pin fabrication facility: It has been jointly developed by BARC and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It will help to increase plutonium production in fast breeder reactors. High-power electron beam melting furnace: It is jointly developed by scientists of BARC and Nuclear Fuel Complex. It will be used for nuclear and strategic applications. Integrated enriched boron tri-fluoride gas generation facility: It was developed by Heavy-water Board in Odisha. It will be used in neutron detectors. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
BARC is India's premier nuclear research facility based in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is multi-disciplinary research center with extensive infrastructure for advanced research and development. Its R&D covers entire spectrum of nuclear science, engineering and related areas. BARC's core mandate is to sustain peaceful applications of nuclear energy, primarily for power generation.