Earthshot prize winner recognised for innovative effort to tackle northern India's smog crisis

Asia's Tech News Daily

Vidyut Mohan, co-founder of Takachar, whose technology relies on oxygen-lean torrefaction and converts crop residue into sellable bio-products like fuel and fertiliser, helping bring down air pollution (

Satellite images of northern India in the past week have revealed a hellish phenomenon oddly specific to the country during winter months.

The grey haze engulfing the region’s otherwise green agricultural land marks the start of a yearly struggle against air pollution that can begin from September and stretches well into the winter, as rice-growing farmers are compelled to burn agricultural waste to make space for their next batch of crops.

This is one of the major factors making India’s national capital Delhi — surrounded by farming-intensive states — a fixture on lists of the world’s most polluted cities.

Its a mammoth challenge to fix, but one that Kevin Kung and Vidyut Mohan have taken on regardless. Their bio-tech solution to tackle the phenomenon has been awarded the 2021 Earthshot Prize and given £1m by Britain’s Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.

Their solution holds both the tantalising promise of cleaning up Delhi’s deadly smog and also battling the climate crisis at the same time.

Mr Mohan and Mr Kung are the co-founders of Takachar, a mission that aims to convert crop residue into valuable products for the consumer market.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.

Both of them have spent the better part of the last three years running multiple pilot projects across India, Kenya and the US to find out how they can better tackle the disposal of $120bn (£87.4bn) worth of crop residue that they say is burned across the world every year.

A prototype of their technology will be on ground for the next 45 days in the city of Rohtak in Haryana, a top farming state in northern India. They say this tech can reduce smoke emissions by up to 98 per cent.

“If scaled, it could cut a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year: a win for India’s farmers will be a win in the fight against climate change,” says a statement by the founders carried by the Earthshot Prize website.

With assistance from the World Food Programme, their pilot project will go on for a year and make better use of rice straws, repurposing them as fuel and fertilisers, instead of watching them burn away in the open and pollute surrounding cities and states.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Mohan explained that their technology works by roasting waste like rice straw in controlled amounts of air, cooking away undesirable elements like moisture and leaving behind a dense bio-fuel.

“It takes out the low energy containing molecules and leaves behind carbon-dense molecules, which goes on to become a base for making various products like fuel and fertilisers,” Mr Mohan says. The process is called torrefaction, and it’s also used to roast coffee beans to make them ready for consumption.

The project’s founders say the method is finding acceptance in Indian states across the country, even beyond the smog-hit northern region.

“I get calls from farmers in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan who are eager and asking when our technology will enter the Indian market,” Mr Mohan says, adding that their project is going to benefit farmers anywhere where there is a system of crop rotation currently involving the torching of residue.

“We want to make it very easy for farmers to get rid of their waste,” Mr Mohan says.

If Takachar can be rolled out successfully, then it has the potential to pay off not just for farmers, but for everyone affected by the crisis of air pollution in India.

From a public health standpoint, the numbers are really shocking, Mr Mohan says.

“A recent study showed that air pollution in northern India affects nearly 480 million — 40 per cent of the population — severely and reduces life-expectancy by nine years. It is a staggering number to look at,” he says.

A study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), cited by Mr Mohan, shows northern India breathes “pollution levels that are 10 times worse than those found anywhere else in the world”.

“It is not just rice straws as agricultural waste, but also sugarcane trash, pine needles and cotton stocks. The agricultural waste is said to contribute 30 per cent of this total smog: a significant proportion,” he points out.

Mr Mohan and Mr Kung ultimately want Takachar to have a net-positive effect.

“Ultimately, beyond the numbers and impact, what matters is when I go to the farmers and I am able to strike the emotional connect to offer a solution,” adds Mr Mohan.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Kate Middleton and Prince William share a look of love as they arrive at carol service

Prince William and Kate Middleton have arrived at the Together at Christmas carol service that’s being hosted at Westminster Abbey today. The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, dazzled in a red ... Read more »

Prince William Welcomes Teen Heroes to Kensington Palace to Honor Their 'Exceptional Achievements'

© Provided by People Samir Hussein/WireImage Prince William is hailing the next generation of doers.  © Samir Hussein/WireImage The Duke of Cambridge met five teens who have been honored by ... Read more »

Kate Middleton wows in head-to-toe red for festive outing

© Provided by Hello! kate-middleton-red-coat The Duchess of Cambridge put in a dazzling appearance to attend the Together At Christmas community carol service at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday afternoon. GALLERY: Kate ... Read more »

Kate hosts star-studded carol service at Westminster Abbey

The Duchess of Cambridge has hosted the ‘Together at Christmas’ service in London’s Westminster Abbey on Wednesday, which is being broadcast on ITV on Christmas Eve. Kate was joined by ... Read more »

Omicron vs. T cells: Why scientists are banking on the immune system's 'memory'

Even as antibody levels wane against the variant, the immune system may still be primed by vaccines or from previous infections to “remember” the virus. Read more »

Black people use Facebook more than anyone. Now they're leaving. The Facebook Papers shed light on why

Brandon Keyes, a 37-year-old Army combat veteran from Detroit, has an on-again, off-again relationship with Facebook. These days, it’s mostly off. Keyes says he got tired of Facebook censoring Black ... Read more »

Phillip Schofield accuses Government of taking people for ‘mugs' amid reports of Downing Street party

Phillip Schofield accuses Government of taking people for ‘mugs’ amid reports of Downing Street party This Morning host Phillip Schofield accused the government of taking people “for a bunch of ... Read more »

Phew! The Sky-High Slit on Becky G's Electric-Yellow Evening Gown at the PCAs Has Me Sweating

Becky G brought the electricity to the 2021 People's Choice Awards on Tuesday night when she arrived in a sexy Roberto Cavalli number that almost didn't make it to the ... Read more »

Furious Tory member quits after hearing Boris Johnson's ‘barefaced lies' about No 10 Christmas party

A furious Conservative party member has revealed she quit the party immediately after hearing Boris Johnson’s “barefaced lies” about the No 10 Christmas party. Melanie, a lifelong Tory, phoned to ... Read more »

Skilyr Hicks Dies: ‘America's Got Talent' Contestant Was 23

Skilyr Hicks, who at age 14 impressed the judges of America’s Got Talent with her performance of an original song and poignant story of losing her father, died Monday in ... Read more »

These popular TV deals are holiday-ready—discounts on Samsung, LG, TCL, and more

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both come and gone, but ... Read more »

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will make an appearance at The Game Awards

It looks like we’ll be getting an update on Rocksteady Studios’ highly-anticipated Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League at this year’s The Game Awards. The confirmation comes via Creative Director ... Read more »

Law enforcement cracks the whip on dodgy .UK domains - and it's working

The number of .UK domain names that have been suspended following notifications from police and other law enforcement agencies has reduced significantly over the last twelve months, reports say. According ... Read more »

Courts uphold UK Uber driver classifications but mobility worker challenges remain

the UK Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling in May that Uber drivers are legally classed as workers and must be treated as such.   The court  that it is unlawful for ... Read more »

14 amazing gift card deals you can get right now from Apple, Best Buy and more

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Gift cards make for the perfect present for almost anyone on ... Read more »

Ralph Lauren's next venture is a metaverse holiday experience for Roblox

We may not fully know what the metaverse will look like, but at least our digital selves will dress sharp as we find out. On Wednesday, designer Ralph Lauren unveiled ... Read more »

Nasa brings Hubble Space Telescope back to life after months of glitches

(Nasa) The <a href="/tag/hubble-space-telescope“>Hubble Space Telescope has been brought back online after its science instruments were taken offline for months due to a glitch. The telescope is one of the ... Read more »

Covid antibody treatment effective against omicron variant, developer says

(AFP via Getty Images) A Covid antibody treatment is effective against the omicron variant and its wide-ranging mutations, new data has confirmed. The drug was tested against a synthesised version ... Read more »

Meta: Facebook and Instagram parent company hails new AI system to detect harmful content

It follows months in which the company has been criticised for allegedly prioritising its own profit before the wellbeing of its users - something the firm has denied. Read more »

Sensitive skin? These gentle beauty products are for you

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. If you have sensitive skin, finding beauty products that give your ... Read more »

The robot Sophia will now exist in the physical and virtual worlds within the metaverse.

Metaverses are becoming more and more popular, little by little more people and investors are getting involved. This time, the news is that the famous humanoid robot, Sophia , will ... Read more »

Britain starts recruiting for real-world COVID antiviral trial

FILE PHOTO: An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by ... Read more »

Volkswagen Group secures future battery technology with new partnerships

Volkswagen Group has entered into three new strategic partnerships to help strengthen its knowledge of battery technology. The first, a joint venture with clean mobility material provider Umicore, will help ... Read more »

Organ grinders digitize their tips to rescue tradition

In Mexico there is a tradition that clings tooth and nail to avoid extinction: the organ grinders . It is difficult to imagine a Sunday afternoon down Alameda Central or ... Read more »

Three Pfizer Vaccine Shots Can Neutralize Omicron Variant

Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) said Wednesday that three shots of its vaccine are effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The information stems from a laboratory test the pharma giant ... Read more »

IT-BPM industry to add 3.75 lakh jobs in FY22: Report

Representative Image With increased investments in the sector and rapid adoption of technology by enterprises in the country, the IT BPM industry is on a positive hiring trajectory and is ... Read more »

Mumbai airport says working with testing labs to explore lowering rapid RT-PCR test charges

Representative image (Image: Reuters) Adani group-owned Mumbai airport on Wednesday said it is working with testing labs and other partners to explore the possibility of further lowering the charges for ... Read more »

Bayern Munich vs Barcelona live stream: how to watch Champions League from anywhere

It’s a massive concluding game in Munich this evening, with Xavi’s Barca side fighting to remain in this year’s Champions League. Follow our guide as we explain how to watch ... Read more »

With “Hello!” as its theme, 2.009 returns to the stage

New products presented by students at the annual event included a curb-climbing wheelchair attachment and seizure-preventing glasses. Read more »

One of the best PS5 SSD upgrades is back to its lowest ever price

A handful of new PS5 SSD deals are now available at Samsung, including the latest Samsung 980 Pro Heatsink that was specifically launched as an easy way to increase your ... Read more »

Apple might be the only company that can take VR and AR headsets mainstream

Apple CEO Tim Cook greets customers at the new Apple Store on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson This article was first featured in ... Read more »

Elizabeth Holmes cross-examination continues Wednesday

Elizabeth Holmes, center, enters the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building with her partner, Billy Evans, right, and her mother, Noel Holmes, in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. ... Read more »

This new CPU overcomes an historic computing bottleneck, but you'll never guess who made it

Chinese ecommerce and cloud titan Alibaba has teased a new chip that stacks memory and processing in a 3D orientation for the first time. As originally reported by two Chinese ... Read more »

High wind delays Michael Strahan's space trip with 5 others

FILE – Blue Origin‘s New Shepard rocket launches carrying passengers William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries from its spaceport near Van Horn, Texas, Wednesday, Oct. 13, ... Read more »

The 2021 Renault Zoe scores a pathetic zero-star safety rating in NCAP crash test

The Renault Zoe may have been , but it has seriously failed the latest crash tests by the (NCAP).  In fact, the NCAP ‘awarded’ the 2021 Renault Zoe with zero ... Read more »

The metaverse could let Silicon Valley track your facial expressions, blood pressure, and your breathing rates — showing exactly why our internet laws need updating

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg giving the metaverse keynoteFacebook With talk swirling about the metaverse comes the question of how to regulate it. Tech firms will gain even more data on ... Read more »

Ghislaine Maxwell trial latest: Photos of British socialite caressing Epstein's feet shown to court

Ghislaine Maxwell massages Jeffrey Epstein‘s foot aboard his private jet – US Department of Justice /PA Ghislaine Maxwell's criminal trial has entered its eighth day after jurors heard testimony from ... Read more »

Amazon shoppers rave about the secret feature of these Jabra earbuds —and they're $70 off!

Yahoo Life is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability ... Read more »

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice melt fan's hearts after hidden mic reveal

Strictly Come Dancing's Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice wowed the judges and viewers alike with their gorgeous American Smooth last weekend, but it seems fans were loving their “chemistry” during ... Read more »

Poll shows Anglo-French antipathy on rise amid post-Brexit bickering

Photograph: Mohammed Badra/EPA Exclusive: political tensions prompt increase in numbers of French with negative view of Brits and vice versa A year of post-Brexit bickering has left the French and ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic