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RSTV: SCIENCE MONITOR- 2.05.2021

RSTV

 

 

Affordable oxygen concentrator by IISER Bhopal:

  • A team of researchers at the IISER Bhopal has come up with an affordable oxygen concentrator to meet the high demand of medical oxygen amid a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The device, which is estimated to cost less than Rs 20,000, can provide 93-95 per cent pure oxygen with a flow rate of up to 3 litre/minute.
  • The device, which costs around Rs 60,000-70,000 at present, has been developed as a solution to tackle the oxygen shortage amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The device, called ‘Oxycon’, has been developed using the open-source technology and material. Once approved, it can be used anywhere from small villages to big cities due to its affordability
  • Unlike the first wave of COVID-19, the second wave has hit the surface very hard. The spread has been recorded significantly high and many of the affected need emergency oxygen support. Hence, hospitals all across the nation are in need of oxygen cylinders or concentrators and the demand has spiked in a very short time.
  • The developed device is portable, customizable and easy to deploy.
  • It has a compressor that takes ambient air and passes it through columns having material named zeolite under an optimized pressure.
  • Two such columns are used in alternate cycles and electronically controlled valves are used for this purpose to make it automatic and provide a continuous oxygen supply.
  • The material, zeolite, absorbs nitrogen from the air and throws it back to the atmosphere, hence the concentration of oxygen increases in the air at the outlet.
  • This system prototype has already been developed and compared with the commercial systems currently available at the market and we have received positive outcomes.

Indigenous concrete 3D printing technology:

  • A start-up founded by alumni of IIT Madras, has made what it says is India’s first 3D-printed house.
  • The team printed the structure using a specialty concrete that it had developed to print large-scale 3D structures in short periods.
  • They say the mix is based on ordinary portland cement, which has a lower water-cement ratio. Though concrete is the primary material typically used in construction projects, it cannot be recycled and requires a lot of energy to mix and transport. So, the team’s effort to use technology to print the house using ordinary portland cement can “overcome the pitfalls of conventional construction.”
  • This advancement will open doors for all kinds of research and development in the construction world.
  • Its first structure, a single-storey house, is 600 square feet and it has been constructed using indigenous concrete 3D printing technology. This technology can help build a house in five days, the institute said.
  • Conventional housing requires timing, material, logistics, transporting of material, and so on. But if this technology can produce houses in different locales in five days, it would not be a big challenge to build 100 million houses by 2022.
  • The use of such local materials would also reduce the need to transport concrete long distances, reducing the environmental impact.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover extracts first oxygen from Red Planet:

  • The growing list of “firsts” for Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen.
  • NASA said that a toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task. The test took place April 20, the 60th Martian day, or sol, since the mission landed on February 18.
  • While the technology demonstration is just getting started, it could pave the way for science fiction to become science fact – isolating and storing oxygen on Mars to help power rockets that could lift astronauts off the planet’s surface.
  • Such devices also might one day provide breathable air for astronauts themselves. MOXIE is an exploration technology investigation – as is the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) weather station – and is sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
  • For rockets or astronauts, oxygen is key, said MOXIE’s principal investigator.
  • To burn its fuel, a rocket must have more oxygen by weight. Getting four astronauts off the Martian surface on a future mission would require approximately 15,000 pounds (seven metric tons) of rocket fuel and 55,000 pounds (25 metric tons) of oxygen. In contrast, astronauts living and working on Mars would require far less oxygen to breathe. “The astronauts who spend a year on the surface will maybe use one metric ton between them.
  • Mars’ atmosphere is 96 per cent carbon dioxide. MOXIE works by separating oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. A waste product, carbon monoxide, is emitted into the Martian atmosphere.
  • The conversion process requires high levels of heat to reach a temperature of approximately 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit (800 Celsius). To accommodate this, the MOXIE unit is made with heat-tolerant materials. These include 3D-printed nickel alloy parts, which heat and cool the gases flowing through it, and a lightweight aerogel that helps hold in the heat. A thin gold coating on the outside of MOXIE reflects infrared heat, keeping it from radiating outward and potentially damaging other parts of Perseverance.
  • In this first operation, MOXIE’s oxygen production was quite modest – about five grams, equivalent to about 10 minutes worth of breathable oxygen for an astronaut. MOXIE is designed to generate up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour.
  • MOXIE isn’t just the first instrument to produce oxygen on another world. It’s the first technology of its kind that will help future missions “live off the land,” using elements of another world’s environment, also known as in-situ resource utilisation.
  • A key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterise the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
  • The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

 

Zydus Cadila sought permission to use hepatitis drug for Covid 19:

  • Zydus Cadila has received restricted emergency use approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI)V.G. Somani for the use of ‘Virafin’, a pegylated interferon alpha-2b, to treat moderate covid-19 infection in adults.
  • It was originally used in treating Hepatitis B and C, and is administered in a single dose subcutaneous regimen.
  • When administered early in treating covid patients, Virafin can help faster recovery and avoid much of the complications, the company said. It will be available on the prescription of a medical specialist for use in a hospital and institutional setups.
  • The fact that we are able to offer a therapy which significantly reduces viral load when given early on can help in better disease management. It comes at a much-needed time for patients and we will continue to provide them access to critical therapies in this battle against covid-19.
  • Earlier this month, Zydus had sought authorization from the DCGI for the additional indication of hepatitis drug for treating covid-19. It had provided data from its phase 3 clinical trials across 20-25 centers in India, which showed that 91.15% of patients treated with Virafin were RT-PCR negative by the seventh day, as compared to 78.9% for standard care.