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Monday, April 12, 2021

Tamil Nadu: 14-year-old girl wins Children’s Climate Prize for designing mobile ironing cart using solar panels

A 14-year-old girl studying in the 9th grade at a private school in Tiruvannamalai has won the prestigious Children’s Climate Prize for designing a mobile ironing cart using solar panels to power a steam iron box.

Vinisha Umashankar received the prize of 100,000 Swedish krona (Rs 8.64 lakh approximately), diploma, and medal from the Sweden-based Children’s Climate Foundation on Wednesday, November 18, at a digital event attended by Isabella Lövin, Swedish Minister for Environment and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister. This is the fifth edition of the Children’s Climate Prize.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Vinisha said: “The street where I live has an ironing cart and the man uses charcoal to heat the heavy cast-iron box for ironing. His wife also irons clothes. She has ironed my clothes several times. After ironing, the burnt charcoal is spread on the ground to cool and later thrown away along with garbage. In my neighbourhood, there are six more ironing carts, which also use charcoal and throw the burnt charcoal away along with garbage. It really made me think about the number of ironing carts in India, the amount of charcoal burnt and the damage it does to the environment and Mother Nature. So, I researched for a viable solution and found that using solar power can effectively substitute the use of charcoal to heat an iron box. Making use of renewable energy is the aim of innovation.

On an average, there may be 10 million ironing carts in India. Each of these burn over five kg of charcoal every day, resulting in immense tree loss.

Vinisha’s simple design addresses the problem of air and water pollution.

“So, I designed a mobile ironing cart with solar panels as its roof, which is connected to a 100 Ah battery. A 12 volt 100 Ah battery needs about 1200 watts of power to be fully charged. The solar panels will produce 250 watts of power per hour. All it takes is five hours of bright sunshine to fully charge the battery, which in turn will power the steam iron box for six hours. For additional income, the cart can be fitted with a coin-operated GSM PCO, USB charging points, and mobile recharging,” Vinisha said.

Vinisha had earlier won the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Award 2019 for innovation. Now, she has been Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Award 2019 for innovation.

It took Vinisha about two months to come up with the design. Engineers at National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in Gujarat built the prototype and applied for a patent, which should be granted by the end of this year.

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