What could one make from rice husk?
Lighter and larger than the actual rice grain it protects, the husk is a yellowish cover which is usually separated as part of the milling process, after which the rice is polished.
A team of four students from the premier Indian Institute of Technology, (IIT) Kharagpur, has highlighted the potential of rice husk to produce furniture and pen bodies.
Competing with over 50 teams and beating five other shortlisted teams, Team Mettle, as the students call themselves, became the champions of the Hult Prize 2019 in October.
According to The Telegraph, the Hult Prize is an annual competition that invites inspiring students to put forth ideas that can solve a social issue around food security, water access, energy, environment and education. More than 50 teams from IIT Kharagpur competed for the prize.
Each year, the challenge topic and prize winner is announced by former US president Bill Clinton. The start-up ideas or social enterprises are judged by a panel of six industry experts.
Team Mettle comprising four IIT students, namely Harshit Garg, Shivendra Gautam, Priyank Sangani and Rajat Maheshwari, won the competition to reach its regional finale with their model.
What is the model?
Leveraging the fact India leads in paddy production, the team explored the use of rice husk to make everyday utility materials like pens, furniture, pitch board and kitchenware. While furniture was a product that was explored at a later stage during their preparation for the Hult Prize, the team spent a long time discussing other product options like packaging material and kitchenware.
This idea could not only breathe life into wasted risk husk but once produced on a large scale, could also help reduce plastic consumption.
Speaking to The Telegraph about how the model works, one of the team members, Harshit Garg, a student of the five-year integrated geophysics and geology course, said:
“We are pouring adhesive and chemical in the rice husk to produce a roll of sheet. That sheet can be used to produce the body of ball pen, kitchenware and pitch boards.”
Their team is now in the process of building a prototype and has two third-year students from the chemical engineering department providing technical support.
Speaking about the job prospects the model will generate, Shivendra Gautam, another team member, said, “The assembly line could generate tens of thousands of jobs.”
This winning team will represent IIT Kharagpur at the regional round in March 2019 which will be held in different locations, including London and Boston, the report added.
What will the winner win?
Well, the team that wins in the world finals set to be held in September 2019 at the United Nations, will receive a seed capital of $1 million in collaboration with the Bill Clinton Foundation to work on sustainable solutions for the world’s most critical social challenges.
About the Hult Prize
Christened after the international business school that has campuses in London and San Francisco, the Hult Prize aims to leverage and support ideas from budding entrepreneurs to help them create social enterprises that will impact the lives of 10 million people by 2025.
Here’s wishing Team Mettle the best!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)