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TechTatva’16: Cheminova

Go beyond test tubes and atoms to delve deep into the world of chemical engineering. Get into the nitty-gritty of the working of batteries and refineries, and if you fancy, make a car and have it run by harnessing the power of chemical reactions with your knowledge of chemistry.

Chem-e-car                                                                                                                                                                       Dheemahi Turaga     

Chem-e-car, the most hands-on event of its category is based on a simple premise; to engineer a chemical reaction capable of propelling a model-car forward. In the week that preceded Tech Tatva, teams of two were put to a written test, narrowing the competition down to ten teams. These teams were then supplied with resources  to build their car, the mechanical workshop being at their disposal.

On Day 1 of TechTatva’16, these cars were to be put to their paces near the Chemical Engineering Department in order to determine which reaction was the most efficient. Unfortunately, some of the teams received their logistics a day late, and were thus unable to finish their prototypes. Of the ten teams, only three were cleared to compete.

All three models were similar in that they all employed plastic bottles for mixing chambers. But the chemicals used were in stark contrast. A team of first years went with the infamous Mentos and Mountain Dew fusion while the rest of the participants chose combinations comprising stronger chemicals.

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PC: Photography and Videography Dept.

Faculty from the Chemical Engineering department graded the teams on their choice of chemicals and the distance travelled by their car.  The first team’s choice of Mentos and Mountain Dew failed to produce results. The worse, however, was yet to come. The second team, consisting of Chris Pinto and Yashaswi Anand, chose the reaction between hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate for propulsion. The chemicals, being too concentrated for use, on being mixed, resulted in a resounding explosion that echoed through the department, rendering the onlookers dazed and temporarily disoriented.

The duo had to be rushed to KMC. Thanks to the safety precautions taken, the duo suffered only minor injuries. Since the last team was using a combination involving sulphuric acid, the judges were hesitant to continue with the event, but after several reassurances, they were allowed. What followed was another explosion, albeit a much smaller one.

Kartikeya Rastogi, the Category Head for Cheminova, visibly distraught from the turn of events, explained that due to logistical issues, the teams did not have enough time to test out their prototypes, leading to the disaster. He also added that explosive accidents weren’t unheard of during Chem-e-car, making him re-consider scrapping the event altogether.

Industrialize                                                                                                                                                                       Garima Singla

With the college immersed in the revelry of TechTatva on Day 2, Cheminova tapped into the technical and entrepreneurial side of people with Industrialize. Held in AB1 at 1pm, the event fell prey to indifference, with a low turnout for the main event. This was unexpected given that Industrialize’s workshop, held in the pre-Tech Tatva week, had a decent turnout of about 16 attendees. Twelve of the sixteen attendees were shortlisted to participate in the event during Tech Tatva, however, only three of them turned up.

Not to be bogged down by the poor turnout, the event began a little off schedule but in full swing, testing the participants’ financial astuteness and knowledge of chemistry alike. The pre-TechTatva workshop primed the participants with all the information required to be able to accomplish the task of designing a petrochemical refinery. The participants were forced to think beyond theory and even science itself to get into the economics of the design to make it not just efficient but also financially viable. The restriction introduced on the amount of capital available for the design cleverly brought the practicalities of real world design into the spotlight. The participants had to build a flowchart depicting the refinery and had to use a symbolic currency to purchase the various units of the refinery depicted in the flow chart. Points were awarded for the correct use of refinery units as well as for the judicious use of funds.

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PC: Photography and Videography Dept.

The event lasted for about one and a half hours although the time given to the participants to finalize their layout was only around fifteen minutes. Industrialize left its participants with an improved knowledge of practical chemical engineering, as seen from the perspective of a petrochemical engineer.

Electricitas                                                                                                                                                                             Garima Singla

The last of Cheminova’s events, Electricitas, was held on the third day of TechTatva. While the turnout for the event failed to satisfy the organizers, it failed to rain on their parade. The challenging battery building event commendably kicked off on time in NLH 102 with the participation of four teams.

Attending Cheminova’s pre-TechTatva workshops on battery building proved to be quite an advantage in the event where the biggest challenge was to use the most unassuming household materials to make electrochemical cells. The event was aimed at putting to test the participants’ creativity and knowledge of electrochemistry. The innovation seen during the event pleasantly surprised the onlookers as batteries constructed using nothing more than metal clips and vinegar almost magically started to produce electricity.

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PC: Photography and Videography Dept.

The concepts in use during the competition were simple and required little knowledge of chemistry beyond what is taught in first year. Yet, the innovative application of these concepts showed that a lot remains hidden in plain sight. The event proved to be an educational experience for not just for the participants but also for the volunteers present there, who admitted to being thoroughly engrossed in watching the teams’ activities. The people involved in the event came from a diversity of branches and not just from chemical engineering, and hence stood to learn quite a bit about one of the most important fields of chemical engineering.

Innovation was the catchword during Electricitas as the teams strived to outperform each other in the close contest. The event heads noted that the event had been a success despite the low turnout, a problem they hope to overcome in the succeeding editions of the event in TechTatva.