IIT-Kharagpur has set up research funding for Research and Development (R&D) work related to COVID-19. The institute submitted a list of projects to the IIT Council last week, of which eight projects have been selected.
Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank acknowledged the initiative on his social media handle, congratulating the institute director Virendra K Tewari and his team of researchers.
The eight projects on which the researchers will be working on are design and development of rapid diagnostic kit, real-time PCR machine, body suit for COVID-19 patients, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and portable shredder integrated with steriliser, Hazmat suit with forced purified and cooled air circulation for medical professionals, bootstrapping ambu-bag as automated ventilator, telemedicine for fighting viral pandemic and large scale production of recombinant proteins for vaccine and testing.
Talking about the initiative, Tewari said, “It is our responsibility to improve the quality of life of the last person in the society. While we built some quick technologies to cater to the immediate needs of the essential service providers on campus, we were simultaneously preparing project proposals and evaluating them, keeping in mind the immediate need of the country, cost and product delivery period.”
An amount of Rs 50 lakh has been allotted for phase I of 8 projects towards development of prototypes. For most of these projects, the prototypes are expected to be ready within a duration of three to four weeks, while a couple of them will take about six months to deliver the results. The phase I is expected to start immediately after the lockdown is relaxed and the researchers are able to attend the laboratories.
Meanwhile, IIT-Kharagpur has set up a disinfection tunnel for sanitising visitors on the campus. Mihir Sarangi, Associate Professor Mechanical Engineering, along with faculty and staff members from various departments have led this innovation to automate the process of disinfection by building a tunnel to spray atomised disinfectant on the visitors while they pass through the tunnel.
The tunnel has been installed at the sole entry point to the campus. While a visitor passes through the tunnel, a disinfectant solution will be sprayed from a high-pressure air compressor. With proper implementation, such sanitisers can disinfect articles of clothing and shoes for a period of time.
“The output material is like mist and highly effective as it covers a larger surface area unlike liquid disinfectant. Also it does not need any drainage,” Sarangi said.
This technology, however, is not a substitute for hand washing or the need to wear face masks in public. Hand washing stations have been placed just outside the disinfection tunnel.
The product prototype has been built indigenously at IIT-Kharagpur in less than a week’s time, while the campus is under lockdown. The prototype is now fully operational at IIT-Kharagpur and being used for all people entering the campus. The commercial model for the product has been estimated to be available for Rs 4 lakh.
IIT-Kharagpur director Tewari said, “Our campus is like a mini township, which in the current situation requires automation of hygiene and safety protocols for essential service providers, who are coming out of their homes every day to serve on the campus and also the campus community who are interacting with these visitors. Such technologies can be quickly built and set up at any location, which has a daily influx of essential service providers.”
According to a source at IIT-Kharagpur, around 4,500 students are presently lodged at their hostels, while there are nearly 700 professors who are lodged at their housing facilities within the campus.