CSIR develops ‘green’ crackers with lesser noise, pollution levels

CSIR develops ‘green’ crackers with lesser noise, pollution levels

6:40 AM, 24th October 2018
Fireworks
Green crackers, with low emissions and sound levels. (File photo)

NEW DELHI, INDIA: As concerns over air-pollution loom large ahead of Diwali, scientists at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have formulated eco-friendly crackers, which would not only cause reduced emissions, but would help people get a reprieve from noise pollution during festivities.

“Green crackers are basically reduced emission crackers wherein we reduce some harmful components, like barium, aluminium and chromium which are conventionally used to get different colours. So, the strategy is to reduce or replace these components with less toxic chemicals which can bring down emissions to significant levels,” said Director Dr Rakesh Kumar, CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI).

Current research underway focuses on developing firecrackers which show 30-35 percent reduction in emission of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and 35-40 percent reduction in SO2 and NOx (oxides of sulphur and nitrogen) and whose sound levels are within the permitted limits (less than 120 decibels). However, scientists highlight that the long-term strategy would be to further reduce these levels.

The Supreme Court, had directed that green crackers, with low emissions and sound levels would only be permitted to be sold in the Delhi/NCR.

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was entrusted by Union Minister for Science and Environment, Dr Harsh Vardhan, early this year, to come up with strategies to prepare eco-friendly crackers in a bid to reduce air pollution caused by firecrackers during Diwali every year.

Scientists at CSIR labs including National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI), Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), Pilani have prepared some chemical formulations for green crackers, however, these are yet to be launched in the market.

“CSIR teams have prepared such formulations and some manufacturers are looking forward to use them,” said Dr Sadhana Rayalu, senior scientists at NEERI, “Apart from that there are plenty of formulations which are being used by manufacturers for a certain colour and impact they intend to create with these firecrackers. So, depending on the kind of formulation, we can also propose some kind of modification or reformulation which can be done to reduce emissions.”

An emission monitoring laboratory was set up at NEERI to test the source-based emissions being caused by these firecrackers, depending on which, they would be classified as green crackers.

It is yet to be decided on what visible markers would be used to differentiate these crackers from other commercial crackers.

Among the most harmful chemicals, scientists are focusing on Aluminium, Barium and Chromium and trying to replace them with less toxic components. Aluminium is used as fuel in fireworks to give white brilliant sparkle. Aluminium may cause skin problems. The use of Barium salt which is used to give only attractive green colour, but emits poisonous gas causing respiratory problem has been banned by the Court.

The use of ash as drying agent is also being avoided.

The Court has also directed Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) to review the clinical composition of fireworks, particularly reducing aluminium content, and submit its report within a period of two weeks.

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