Open Air Solutions for India’s Pollution Problem
The development of an efficient rechargeable electric bicycle with a novel mechanical power transmission mechanism.
The Collaborative Clean Air Policy Center, India
India has some of the highest pollution levels in the world. A study published in the Lancet estimated that in 2017 air pollution killed more than one million Indians. In a World Health Organization list, eleven out of the 12 most polluted cities in the world are in India.
Among the causes are thermal power stations, vehicle emissions, industrial chimney wastes and crop residue burning. This acute problem is being tackled in many different ways with innovation playing a key part, including open innovation.
In 2018, the Collaborative Clean Air Policy Center (CCAPC) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) hosted the National Clean Air Crowdsourcing Competition which was open to students across the country. It served as a catalyst to spark innovative thinking and breakthrough ideas to fix the problem in New Delhi, the capital and across the country.
Tackling Pollution with Innovation
Contest organizers wanted to see ideas and concepts that would address the pollution issue on multiple fronts such as new ways to promote behavioral changes, new technologies, better enforcement methods and new regulations.
The first phase of the competition involved filling in an application form with details of the proposed solution. From this pool, judges selected five finalists to pitch their ideas, in person or by Skype.
Students from all over India took part in the open innovation competition, and a team from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras was selected as the winners. Their winning entry was The Hybrid Bevel Bicycle which judges considered to be the most well-developed proposal and the most likely to lead to changes in the country.
The winning team proposed an efficient rechargeable electric bicycle with in-house sensors and control system along with an innovative mechanical power transmission mechanism using bevel gears. These are gears that use a drive shaft instead of a chain to transmit power from a bike's pedals to its wheels.
Members of the winning team were given mentorships to work on their idea at the Collaborative Clean Air Policy Center during the summer of 2018. According to some of their LinkedIn profiles at the time this article was written in early 2019, the development of the Hybrid Bevel Bicycle is continuing apace.
Meanwhile, the CCAPC will continue to organize crowdsourcing competitions and innovation prizes as well as working jointly with other institutions on novel solutions for the air pollution problem.
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