African teens create urine-fueled generator

In a stroke of ingenuity that could have proven handy during Hurricane Sandy, four teenage African girls have come up with a urine-powered generator.

Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, and Faleke Oluwatoyin, all 14, and Bello Eniola, 15, collaborated on the invention, which they claim generates one hour of electricity from one liter (about a quart) of urine.

The pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s workings in the following words:

  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.

Hydrogen, of course, carries explosive risks, so the girls used one-way valves as a security measure (whether that is safety precaution enough is unclear). But don’t start saving your bladder output just yet. The blog doesn’t mention where the energy needed to power the electrolytic cell comes from, or whether the electrolytic cell uses more power than the machine generates.

While many commenters on the Maker Faire Africa blog are applauding the girls’ work, others have expressed skepticism of their contraption. On one science-minded blog, believers and not-so-believers are currently engaged in a lively and thorough deconstruction of its various components.

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Honey is where the money is

Today Nirania has about 70 bee colonies and has also brought out a organic honey brand, Himbee, which sells at Rs 300 a kg in the market.

“For the past few training sessions, I have been observing that honeybee farming is popular not only with landless farmers but also with people in white-collar jobs, who are coming for the training camps,” said Dr Yuvraj Pandha, assistant professor at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Ferozepur.

Dyan Singh, 30, is another such beekeeper. Working as an inclusive education volunteer at a government school, he rears his colonies in 25 boxes and sells his honey among his friends at Rs 300 a kg. His additional income comes to around Rs 80,000 a year as of now.

Beekeeping catching on in Jammu and Kashmir

A projected honey output over 500 tonnes, 7,500 beekeepers and growing, with 29,850 bee colonies between them. Beekeeping has been catching on in Jammu and Kashmir, with production having jumped from 300 tonnes in 2010 to 597 last year.

It’s a trend that also creates job avenues for the unemployed, say officials, pointing out that many educated youths are among those setting up bee colonies in the countryside because of its promise. Honey has not only a local market but also demand nationally and and internationally. In the last six years, 1,067 tonnes was exported out of the valley.


Dripping with irrigation success

Studies have shown that drip use increases productivity by 27 per cent in cotton and 52 per cent in banana. Also, huge quantities of water are saved (citrus 61 per cent, sugarcane 56, cotton 53, banana 45).

Rapidly growing adoption of micro-irrigation systems (drip and sprinkler) over the past seven years in Maharashtra has brought nearly 12 lakh hectares under its coverage, which is about one-third of the country’s total micro-irrigated area and also one-third of the state’s total irrigated area, which varies between 35 and 40 lakh hectares in a net cropped area of 175 lakh hectares. This has not just improved farm productivity but also saved precious water.

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20,000 water conservation ponds in 125 villages over 19 years — how to make a forest

They had broken free of the vicious cycle of drought/flood—more water meant the forests were getting more dense, which in turn retained even more water.
…they have built about 20,000 chaals in about 125 villages over the past 19 years

Bharati began talking to the women who were left behind. In the first year, they built a chaal SACHCHIDANAND BHARATI Building water tanks to save the foreston a monsoonal channel that had dried up. After the next monsoon, it retained water longer, the surrounding soil remained moist, the forest looked healthier. Over the next five years, Bharati’s Doodhatoli Lok Vikas Sansthan built several chaals in Ufrainkhaal and neighbouring villages, improving their design through trial.

They had broken free of the vicious cycle of drought/flood—more water meant the forests were getting more dense, which in turn retained even more water. The big test came during the drought of 2000-01. Forest fires are a regular feature in the pine plantations that pass for government forests in the region—pine kills all undergrowth and its needles pile up into a tinderbox. The fires did not spread to the regenerated oak forests, which have soil moisture and diversity. Yet there was the fear that the fires will engulf them, so the village women who had built the chaals turned out in numbers to prevent fires in government forests. Three women died in these efforts. The fire was controlled.

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‘Jan satyagraha’: 50,000 landless people march from Gwalior to Delhi for rights

Gwalior: In a unique protest of its kind, 50,000 landless people from 26 states under the banner of an NGO Ekta Parishad, have started a jan satyagraha (people’s movement) today and are walking from Gwalior to Delhi. They say the distance, about 320 km, will be covered by October 29.

The satyagrahis (protesters) are demanding a national land reform policy and plan to hand over a memorandum to the Centre to highlight the problems of landless poor.

The Centre had appointed Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and junior minister in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Jyotiraditya Scindia, to hold talks with activists led by Ekta Parishad chairman PV Rajagopal on the issue.

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Rahul Gandhi has opened not a window, but a door for us in Kashmir: Ratan Tata

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Tata said, “It has been a real step forward to have a conversation with the great wealth of human capital that exists here. What Mr Gandhi has done is not open a window, but open a door.” 

Rahul Gandhi has opened not a window, but a door for us in Kashmir: Ratan Tata

Srinagar: Rahul Gandhi today kept his promise made to the students of Kashmir during his visit

earlier, that he would bring India Inc to the Valley. As he addressed more than 700 students in a packed Kashmir University auditorium, sharing the stage with him was a power-packed panel of India’s top industrial and corporate leaders, including Ratan Tata, Kumarmangalam Birla, Deepak Parekh and Rajiv Bajav.

Outside the auditorium a small group of students protested against Mr Gandhi’s visit, asking him go back and keep politics out of the campus.

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