Special Reports

MJCET students invent solar charkha


By Syed Khaled Shahbaaz

A solar-powered Chakra was inaugurated by Khan Lateef Khan, Chairman, Sultanul- Uloom Education Society during the Annual Day celebrations of Muffakham Jah College of Engineering and Technology. Developed by students Farhan Ali Khan and Aditya Mekala of B.E 4th year, the solar-powered spinning wheel aims at easing worker burden, doubling yield and promoting employment in rural areas where poor women use these charkhas to earn their livelihood. The project, funded by MJCET and dubbed as “Solar-powered charkha,” involved transforming two manual operated ‘charkhas’ (popularised by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom movement) to a modern and self-sufficient spinning machine with a juice-pack of its own. The solar-powered charkha not only increases the yield and quality of the conduced fabric but also doubles productivity. In fact, the solar charkha yielded 50 yanks per eight hours when tested by actual women users at the site, which is double the yield obtained by using manual charkhas. For example, a woman who earlier used to work on only one simple charkha would now be able to work on two solar charkhas simultaneously and earn about Rs. 250 per day (or about Rs. 6250 with eight hours of work for 25 working days a month). The cost of refurbishing the manual chakra into a solar gadget was Rs. 75,000 for the two machines. With the current subsidy of 30 percent by government of India on solar-powered devices, the actual cost will be Rs. 52,500 and the total investment will be recouped within 12 months. The solar-powered chakra can help increase the wages of rural people from Rs. 22,500 to Rs. 75,000 annually. The solar chakra is equipped with sufficiently large solar panels that charge the rechargeable batteries fitted into its chassis. As the solar panels convert solar energy into electrical power, the accompanying inverter automatically converts the incoming alternate current (AC) into direct current (DC) to power the motors to run the two charkhas. The spindle motor rotates at 60-90rpm that drives the charkha with the help of a speed regulator. Excess power is stored into the battery to power the charkhas and lights for up to four hours after sunset. As rural areas face severe power shortage, the solar energy technology will help workers to not only work in the absence of power but also allow the generated power to be used for house lighting, charging mobile phones and running TV sets. Since the solar charkha can also be operated by physically-challenged people, it is expected to create more employment opportunities in the rural areas and change the lives of people for the better.
The writer is a software engineer turned journalist. He can be reached over email at syedkhaledshahbaaz@gmail.com 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2014 on page no. 13

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