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Cool Bihari: Power Generation for Rural Bihar

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Power Generation for Rural Bihar

Grass root innovation is gaining considerable momentum in Bihar. We have yet another success story of Manoj Sinha who has been recently featured on NYT for his unique contribution of coming up with Husk power system for transforming rural power generation. Husk Power Systems won first place in 2008 in the University of Virginia business plan competition and the social innovation competition at the University of Texas, Austin.

After earning an electrical engineering degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and working for the Intel Corporation, he began exploring ways to turn farm waste into electricity, with the dream of building village-scale generators.Last year at the University of Virginia, where he is studying for a master’s at the Darden School of Business, he and a fellow student, Charles Ransler, teamed up with another engineer from Bihar, Gyanesh Pandey, and Husk Power Systems was born.

The Indian engineers, both 31, had initially planned on raising money to build small generators for simply a few villages. But the company now has a proprietary generator that runs on a methane-like gas released by heating rice husks a certain way. A waste product of rice milling, husks are plentiful in villages. While agricultural waste is common for generating heat, it is not often used for generating electricity, and there is nothing remotely like this system in the villages of developing countries. The system produces enough electricity to supply 300 to 500 households for 8 to 10 hours a day. A byproduct is silica, a valuable ingredient in making cement.
The long-term plan is to profit from the global market in credits — earned by avoiding greenhouse-gas emissions, which result from burning fossil fuels like coal — and to sell the benefit.

Another worthy contribution in this area has been the Samman foundation, lead by Irafan Alam. Samman foundation is currently amongst the top 10 finalist in the Tata Nen hottest start up competition. Best wishes to his team for the final stage.

Read more about Grass root innovation in Bihar here.

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