The deteriorating condition of Bengaluru’s lakes, owing to years of garbage dumping and the illegal release of factory effluents, is an unfortunate reality and a major concern for its residents.
Among the worst hit is the Bellandur Lake. Its infamous toxic foam has become a symbol of the city’s struggle with waste management, and several publications have described it as a ‘never-ending tragedy.’
Like most people in the city, A Pavan Reddy, a student of Aeronautical Engineering at the MVJ College of Engineering, was concerned about the lake.
“I’ve grown up seeing the depreciating condition of the Bellandur Lake, and the incessant frothing was the last straw. Newspapers would regularly publish reports about the crisis, but there would be nothing on what could be done to resolve it. This motivated me to look for answers,” says the second-year student to The Better India.
And he did find a solution—one that involves fruit peels!
No, we are not joking.
“I began my search by looking at solutions that other countries were employing to manage similar situations. But I didn’t find anything as their sewage management systems are quite superior and well organised. I didn’t want to give up, so I kept researching till I stumbled upon some research papers that shed light on the filtering abilities of the peels of fruits like watermelon, pineapple, papaya, lemon, and banana!” says Pavan.
He then began conducting tests.
“I started with fresh fruit peels, but they completely disrupted my experiments because the water content in the peel messed with the COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) which is the amount of oxygen required to degenerate all the pollution chemically. So, I turned to sun-dried fruit peels. After finely powdering them, I made a filtration membrane and added hydrochloric acid to enable surface absorption,” explains Pavan.
After collecting water from the lake, he put it through the filter at a contact time of 30 minutes.
“Initially, I maintained a contact time of 15 minutes and recorded an efficiency of 70 per cent in the filtration in the water. I then scaled it up to half an hour, and the success rate was between 90-92 per cent. I had conducted the experiment with 1 gm of fruit peel powder and 100 ml of lake water. This filtered water can be used for all purposes other than drinking,” adds Pavan.
To further validate his findings, Pavan took his filters to the labs of Pollution Control Board for testing, and he happily shares that the results were similar to his.
“Now, I’m working on scaling up the membrane to an industrial level that will efficiently work on a water body as vast as Bellandur Lake. Instead of tiny membranes, filter beds are what I have in mind. My research on how to find feasible solutions that can withstand rain and other natural conditions is still on, and once it concludes, I will approach authorities with my innovation,” he concludes.
With more and more lakes falling victims to severe pollution, Pavan’s organic solution to resuscitate the Bellandur Lake emerges as a silver lining. We wish him all the best and hope he can scale up the innovation and find real-time application, soon.
If you wish to reach out Pavan for any kind of support or assistance, you can call him at 9535393720.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)