Meet Vaibhav Tidke and Shital Somani. They are two young determined individuals who have won this year’s Dell Social Innovation Challenge for their project Solar Conduction Dryer. They promise that their project, which is essentially a dehydrator of fruits and vegetables powered by solar conduction, will make the lives of farmers in the country much easier.
Tidke and Somani won a whopping $60,000 for their innovation, which is currently being worked upon at the Institute of Chemical Technology, where Tidke is a PhD student.
Somani says the duo have been working on a few ideas to make society better through application of science. Both hail from an interior part of Maharashtra.
“It was in 2009 when he and I started Science for Society. We were friends from school and even though we went to different colleges, we wanted to create a platform where like-minded youth could use science to promote useful technology,” says Somani.
It was about that time that Tidke came up with the idea of making a cost-effective dehydrator, says Somani, who have recently graduated from Welingkar Institute of Management.
“This is the first solar dryer of agro and marine products conduction (major), convection and radiation as modes of heat transfer in drying. We have already applied for patents. This means it can dehydrate products free of cost and five times cheaper than other solar dryers,” she adds.
It is this innovation that landed the duo among the five finalists shortlisted from 2,600 projects submitted from across the world. Their idea won the competition held at Austin, Texas, this year.
The money won will be put towards making the product better before bringing it out as a commercial project in a matter of few months, says Somani.
“It will be ready for commercialisation in four to six months and we are working with farmer population, NGOs in this field to reach out to as many people as possible. We are still in the process of making prototypes,” she adds.
Somani says Science for Society is working on a few other ideas, all of which have mostly to do with harnessing renewable energy and biomass gasification.