On Tuesday, while restricting the use of fireworks during all events to an 8-10 pm window, the Supreme Court ordered that only crackers with reduced emission and “green crackers” can be manufactured and sold. The court observed that efforts have gone into producing such crackers.
“Green crackers” are so named because they “do not contain harmful chemicals” that would cause air pollution. Components in firecrackers are replaced with others that are “less dangerous” and “less harmful” to the atmosphere, says Dr Rakesh Kumar, director the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI). Click here to read in Tamil
Tests & results
The idea, proposed by Science & Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, was announced in January. It was carried forward by a network of CSIR labs, including Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, National Botanical Research Institute and National Chemical Laboratory. “The idea was to assess if we can replace or reduce dangerous components with materials that are less harmful,” Kumar said. “We came up with 3-4 formulations and looked at 30-40% of active materials which reduce particulate matter.”
CSIR-CECRI has developed flower pots by using “eco-friendly materials” that can potentially reduce particulate matter by 40%. CSIR-NEERI is testing the efficacy of bijli crackers by “eliminating the use of ash as desiccants”. Scientists have also developed potential sound-emitting functional prototypes that do not emit sulphur dioxide, and are testing a prototype of flower pots substituting barium nitrate with an eco-friendly version.
Scientists have given these crackers names: Safe Water Releaser (SWAS), Safe Thermite Cracker (STAR) and Safe Minimal Aluminium (SAFAL). “It has the unique property of releasing water vapour and/or air as dust suppressant and diluent for gaseous emissions and matching performance in sound with conventional crackers,” researchers say. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation is testing and analysing these crackers for safety and stability.
More to come
Kumar said some manufacturers have been shown such results. They have been “successfully demonstrated” in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, a hub for fireworks industries. “The idea this year was to use material that is inexpensive. We will run experiments with other unique materials in the next round,” he said.
Kumar said that an emissions testing facility has also been established at CSIR-NEERI. This will test conventional and green crackers and monitor them for emissions and sound. “The other issue is the use of substandard raw materials in firework manufacturing which is a major source of particulate matter pollution,” he said.
E-crackers or electric crackers are also being tested by a team from CSIR-CEERI in Pilani. However, feedback from manufacturers has not been encouraging, with some pointing out that it will sound like listening to a recording of firecrackers instead, scientists say.