Newspaper : 2017-06-04






Sci-Tech & Agri


New GST rate of 3% for gold, diamonds

Rates finalised for all products

The Goods and Services Tax Council on Saturday finalised the rates on all the remaining products, including gold, footwear, textiles, agricultural implements, biscuits, and beedis. The Council also cleared the rules regarding return filing, and transitional provisions.

Union Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley, while briefing the media following the conclusion of the one-day meeting, said gold, silver, and diamonds would be placed in a new rate category of 3% while rough diamonds would attract a nominal rate of 0.25%.

Biscuits, currently taxed at a combined State and central tax rate of 20-23%, have been placed in the 18% GST rate category.


Kerala, the monsoon’s first port of call, comes alive with the breath of rain.

The southwest monsoon is a magical phenomenon, arriving almost surreptitiously, often just before daybreak, drenching the scorched earth and the dry foliage in one broad sweep. The earth receives the first rain with an almost audible sigh.

The signs of the monsoon’s landfall on the Kerala coast begin to appear as May draws to a close. Big, dark clouds move indolently on the western horizon but without the accompaniment of thunder and lightning as it happens during the northeast monsoon. All is quiet for a while. Then, the winds begin to blow landward, and intimations of rain come in the form of a few scattered drops. As the night falls, there is a mild chill in the air, indicating a drizzle somewhere. And, when the day breaks, it is a rain-washed world into which Keralites wake up.

Even as it brings relief from the heat, the monsoon does not bring glad tidings to children as schools reopen with its arrival. There is the play of light and shadows on the beach as the summer sun gets veiled by the rain clouds.

The waves gain in ferocity as the monsoon winds begin to blow. The fishermen must work their heart out for a living, whether in the sea or the backwaters.

Away from the seashore and the backwaters, the clouds cover the hills, farmers get busy protecting their farms and travellers get ready for the windy wet nights out. As the whole world seems to dance to the monsoon raga, children have a whale of a time playing in the rain.

And, as night falls, the flying ants rise up from the earth for their brief celebration of life. The monsoon is here.

Plastic bottles turn mattresses, quilts & much more

A thriving industry with a growing demand helps turn scrap into garments that are environment-friendly and easy on the pocket.

When Latha throws away used plastic water bottles every week, she is only clearing waste at home. Thirumalaisamy, a conservancy worker with the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation, collects garbage door-to-door and earns Rs. 5 for 35-40 waste PET bottles, adding up to about a kilo, by selling them to the neighbourhood scrap dealer.

Neither has a clue where the discarded bottles go afterwards. About 45 km from Coimbatore, at Tirupur, S. Krishna Kumar needs 55 lakh bottles a day for his PET bottle recycling plant. He buys it from large scrap dealers in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, paying Rs. 40 to Rs. 43 for a kilo waste plastic bottles.

At the recycling plant, these bottles pass through conveyor belts, filtration tanks and dryers to be sorted, crushed, cleaned, coloured and turned into PET fibre. This recycled polyester fibre is mixed with fibre from hosiery waste, spun into yarn and supplied to power-loom weaving clusters not just in Tamil Nadu but across the country. When it is not mixed with hosiery waste fibre, it is used to make mattresses, cushions, quilts and non-woven fabrics.

Thanks to the textile industry ecosystem in Tamil Nadu — including the availability of recycled fibre, and the presence of a large number of hosiery units in Tirupur and spinning mills in the western districts — the use of recycled fibre is becoming popular, whether for lungis made in Bhavani, the bedsheets of Chennimalai, the towels of Salem or the kitchen linen of Karur.

Approximately 8 to 12 bottles go into the making of a garment, a mattress needs about 120 bottles.

Spinning momentum

B.P. Sultania, president of the All India Recycled Fibre and Yarns Association, says around 35 companies in India recycle PET bottles, producing 50,000 tonnes of recycled fibre a month. This equals almost 50% of the virgin polyester produced in the country. Though Mr. Sultania started his unit in 1996, it was only after 2006 that the industry gained momentum. “This is because of better awareness and technology, and more applications for recycled fibre,” he says. The applications for recycled fibre can, in fact, improve further as technology gets better.

Tamil Nadu has two PET recycling plants, one each in Tirupur and Karur, and most of the 450 open-end spinning mills in the State have begun using recycled fibre. Open-end spinning mills normally buy waste cotton from textile mills for raw material and supply yarn to power-loom clusters that make bedsheets, towels, lungis, home furnishing and mops. Now, their use of recycled fibre is on the rise.

According to G. Arulmozhi, whose mill in Coimbatore uses both recycled fibre and waste cotton, the trend has picked up in the last four years. About 10% to 20% of yarn spun by the open-end spinning mills in the State are made out of recycled fibre (a mix of recycled PET fibre and hosiery waste fibre).

Better production

“We generally buy cotton waste from textile mills and use it as raw material. The yarn manufactured by our units is used in power-loom clusters. But issues such as increase in the price of cotton and fluctuations in the availability of waste cotton made us look at options. The use of recycled fibre instead of 100% cotton waste results in better price and production,” Mr. Arulmozhi says.

The absorption quality is still good in products such as towels since hosiery waste fibre is used in them. The recycled fibre yarn is used mostly for low-price products. Demand for recycled fibre yarn is high now from power-loom clusters in the northern States too, he adds.

At Chennimalai, a major power-loom cluster located nearly 85 km from Coimbatore, 98% of the cone yarn used is recycled fibre yarn, says K.C. Chandrasekaran, who has been in the textile industry since 1981.

Selvam, a weaver in Chennimalai, says, “Earlier, we used to get yarn from the merchants and send it for dyeing. It would take two or three weeks. Now, we get coloured yarn. We are able to save Rs. 10 for a kilo of yarn. There are 16 to 18 colours. It goes straight into weaving. There are no knots in the yarn and so there is a smooth finish in the bedsheets.”

The cost factor

“We save on the cost involved in labour, dyeing, the transport for dyeing and also time,” Suresh, another weaver at Melapalayam, says. Productivity is therefore higher, products are available at relatively lower prices, and the demand has not tapered, which indicates the products are accepted by consumers, say the weavers.

Annasagaram in Dharmapuri district used to have 1,000 looms weaving small towels. The number of looms had fallen to about 500 because of challenges such as labour shortage and problems in dyeing the yarn. Now, there is a revival and there are about 3,000 functioning looms as the use of recycled fibre yarn has increased, says Mr. Chandrasekaran.

Some knotty problems

Nevertheless, there are challenges. The recycling sector needs to be sustainable, say industry sources. While caps are recycled into plastic pellets, the labels removed from the bottles remain waste. Western countries adopt Global Recycle Standards and garments made out of 100% recycled fibre are sold as sustainable products.

The bottles are supplied by the unorganised sector. “It is very difficult to get adequate quantities of PET bottles during winter. The government does not permit the import of waste PET bottles,” says Mr. Krishnakumar.

“Except for the special excise duty on recycled fibre, there is no support from the government,” says Mr. Sultania.

Mr. Chandrasekaran too hopes the environment-friendly recycled fibre will be encouraged by the government with concessions.

Hawala trail goes back decades

Illegal transactions started with overseas funding to JKLF and Hizb

The trail of money transactions through hawala to fuel militancy in Kashmir goes back to the early days of insurgency in the 1990s, with overseas conduits spread across Pakistan, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, the United Kingdom and the European Union, says the counter-insurgency cell of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

The security establishment’s assessment suggests that anywhere between Rs. 200 crore and 400 crore are pumped into J&K annually to aid militancy and promote separatism by Pakistan.

The funneling of money started in the 1990s with overseas funding to the JKLF and Hizbul Mujahideen.

Channels of funding

Sources in the security establishment admit that “smaller hawala transactions miss the radar at times”. The hawala racketeers have roped in smaller and big business houses across continents “to manage annual funding”.

Thirty-five percent of hawala money, according to sources, is channelled directly through militant outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Hizbul Mujahideen and another 40% through overseas religious and charity organisations. The rest comes through businessmen and conduits, with many spread in parts of India.

“A lot of money has been invested in real estate and business houses, making it a round-the-year revenue generating mechanism,” said a police official.

The cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade, which started in 2008, is believed to have fallen into the hands of money launderers and is under the NIA scanner.

Fake notes

According to official figures, 37 persons have been arrested so far for using money obtained through hawala and fake Indian currency notes for militant-related activities.

Since 2013, 17 cases of hawala transactions were registered in Kashmir.

Over Rs. 36.70 lakhs, $900 and 33 gold coins were also recovered from these persons.

In 2011, Rs. 21 lakh was recovered from three persons, including advocate Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, who in 2008 was carrying Rs. 55 lakh in a concealed gas cylinder.

The lowdown on the Zika virus

What is Zika?How did it come about?Why does it matter?What next?

Zika is an arbovirus infection which occurs through the bite of several different species of Aedes mosquitoes, including the Aedes aegypti which is active during the day; it can also be transmitted sexually. The virus was first isolated from a rhesus monkey in Uganda in the Zika forest, near the western shore of Lake Victoria, in 1947, and hence the name. The mosquito-borne virus spread in many African and Asian countries but caused no harm. But in 2007, more than a hundred cases were reported at Yap, a tiny island in the south-western Pacific. Six years later, Zika spread to French Polynesia, where nearly 30,000 people required medical attention. Among them, more than 70 people had severe neurological symptoms and 40 contracted the Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the immune system attacks the nervous system, sometimes resulting in paralysis.

In north-eastern Brazil, towards the end of 2015 and within months after the outbreak, the Zika virus was seen to have a possible link to birth defects in babies. While nearly 80% of the people infected with Zika did not have symptoms, the infection became dangerous if it occurred during the early stages of pregnancy. In some cases, if the virus attacked the brain tissue of the foetus, it led to microcephaly, a condition that results in babies being born with tiny heads, causing severe neurological disorders. By the end of January 2016, 4,200 suspected cases of microcephaly were reported, and the virus spread to several other Latin American countries and to the Caribbean, with El Salvador, Jamaica and Colombia advising women to delay pregnancy. Last year, on February 1, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Zika a public health emergency of international concern. The WHO issued an advisory to pregnant women to avoid travelling to countries with an outbreak of the Zika virus.

Besides being spread by mosquitoes, the sexual route of transmission was confirmed in France by last February-end; in a matter of days the WHO said sexual transmission of the virus is “relatively common.” And by mid-April, in a turning point in the Zika virus outbreak, the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the virus caused severe foetal brain defects. Though it was widely suspected, scientists finally pinned down the Aedes aegypti mosquito, common in many tropical countries including India, as the vector responsible for transmitting the virus.

The virus can be spread through blood transfusion. It has also turned up in urine, tears and saliva, but it is not confirmed that it can spread through them. Since the virus can stay in semen longer than in blood, the WHO recommended that couples abstain from sex for at least six months after a man has been diagnosed with Zika. Besides spreading to a few States in the U.S, the virus reached closer to India when it was reported in Singapore last August: 330 cases in two months. The virus soon spread to Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar. In mid-November 2016, the WHO declared that the Zika emergency was over. By the end of the year, Brazil had confirmed about 2,230 microcephaly cases. The U.S. reported nearly 4,600 Zika cases by December. Even as Brazil announced the end of its public health emergency on May 12 this year, the virus appeared in India. Between November 2016 and February 2017, India reported three locally transmitted cases (two women and a man) of Zika in Gujarat; but the news came to light only on May 26, 2017 when the WHO published it on its website.

A year after the WHO declared Zika a public health emergency, there has been some positive news on the vaccine front. A single dose of Zika vaccine made from the Zika virus showed promise in mice and monkeys. More than 40 Zika vaccine candidates are in the pipeline and five are entering human clinical trials (Phase I). Back home, the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Zika vaccine was found to confer 100% protection on mice. The company has just begun clinical trials in humans (Phase I) in two centres in India.

India, France to join hands on Paris pact

Leaders of the two countries also vow to unite to boost maritime security and fight against terrorism.

India and France on Saturday vowed to work together for the implementation of the landmark Paris climate agreement and fight the challenge posed by terrorism, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron here.

Mr. Modi said India was committed to “go above and beyond” the Paris deal to protect climate for future generations as he termed the U.N.-brokered agreement a shared legacy of the world, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump walked out of the accord. After holding two hours of wide-ranging talks with Mr. Macron at the presidential Elysee Palace here, Mr. Modi said the Paris climate deal reflects “our duty towards protecting the mother Earth and our natural resources. For us, this (protection of environment) is an article of faith.”

Shared legacy

Paris climate agreement is a shared legacy of the world. It will benefit the future generations as well,” Mr. Modi said addressing a joint press event with Mr. Macron.

Describing the city of Paris as an important part of his political journey, the Prime Minister said India and France had worked shoulder-to-shoulder for this agreement.

On his part, Mr. Macron said he wants to restate France’s full commitment to the fight against climate warming. The two leaders voiced concern over the growing threat of terrorism worldwide. “Terrorism is one of the biggest challenges the world is facing today,” Mr. Modi said.

“We cannot see the danger of climate change but we can see the horrific effects of terrorism, we can feel it. Innocent people, women, children lose their lives to terror. Every child in France knows the face of terror,” Mr. Modi said, referring to a series of terror attacks that rocked France in recent years.

Mr. Macron said, “We are committed to work together in defence cooperation, maritime security and fighting terrorism on the Internet. France will stand by India in the fight against terrorism.” Mr. Modi invited the French president to visit India. Mr. Macron said he would visit New Delhi by the end of the year for an international summit on solar power.

Is Donald Trump a climate sceptic? No one can say

Announcing move to pull U.S. out of Paris deal, President cited economic reasons.

As a businessman, President Donald Trump was a frequent and scornful critic of the concept of climate change. In the years before running for President, he called it “non-existent,” “mythical” and a “a total con job.” Whenever snow fell in New York, it seemed, he would mock the idea of global warming.

“Global warming has been proven to be a canard repeatedly over and over again,” he wrote on Twitter in 2012. In another post later that year, he said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” A year later, he wrote that “global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”

But on Friday, a day after Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate change accord, the White House refused to say whether the President still considered climate change a hoax. As other leaders around the world vowed to confront climate change without the U.S., Mr. Trump’s advisers fanned out to defend his decision and, when pressed, said they did not know his view of the science underlying the debate.

“I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.

“I do not speak for the President,” said Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary. “You should ask him that,” said Kellyanne Conway, the White House counsellor.

Mr. Trump offered no opportunity for anyone to ask him that on Friday. But his current views, whatever they may be, presumably shaped his thinking as he evaluated whether to remain in the Paris accord.

‘Bad deal’

Given that he promised on Thursday to seek to re-enter the pact on better terms or negotiate an entirely new deal that he said would be fairer to the U.S., his acceptance or denial of climate science seems likely to determine his approach.

In his speech announcing his decision, he did not address the science of climate change or repeat any of the scepticism he has expressed for years. Instead, he cast it largely in economic terms, arguing that former President Barack Obama agreed to a bad deal for Americans that would handcuff the economy and put the U.S. at a disadvantage against its international competitors.

But administration officials clearly saw no benefit in clarifying. If they affirmed that he still believed climate change to be fake, they would expose him to even more criticism at home and abroad and complicate the lives of those advisers who accept the broad scientific consensus. If they asserted that he had changed his mind and now agreed that climate change is real, then they would have to explain a flip-flop while risking criticism from his own base.

Moreover, recent weeks have reminded White House aides about the dangers of making declarative statements about the President’s beliefs or actions only to have him contradict them within days or even hours. When Mr. Trump fired James Comey, the FBI director, he sent out his Vice-President and top aides to give an explanation of his decision that quickly unravelled after he gave an interview with a conflicting version of events.

‘Bogus claims’

Climate science deniers, cheered by his decision to pull out of the Paris agreement, seemed willing to live without a clearer statement taking on what they call the bogus claims of environmental advocates.

“I think his withdrawing us from Paris was the greatest action by a president in my lifetime,” said Steve Milloy, who runs a website, , which aims to debunk climate change and who served on Mr. Trump’s environmental transition team. NYT.

Federal Bank eyes slice of digital pie

Targets one lakh merchants for UPI-based transactions this financial year.

Federal Bank plans to reach out to more than one lakh merchants for Unified Payments Interface-based transactions this financial year from the current 20,000, said chief operating officer Shalini Warrier.

The merchants will use UPI point-of-sale machines, mobile app or web app for transactions, she said.

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing and merchant payments into one.

With the implementation of GST, the merchants will do more online filing and hence digital transactions were also expected to go up, Ms. Warrier told reporters.

The bank recently introduced a mobile banking app with additional security features for small and medium-scale enterprises and corporations. About 300 clients were using it now and the number is expected to go up to 10,000 this fiscal. Further, the bank has eased the process of opening accounts.

About 60% of the bank’s transactions were now through the digital mode and it was about 45% before November last year, she said.

On the bank’s investments on the digital front, she said, “We do it across technology, marketing, etc. It is a critical part of our strategy.”

Bank recruitment

Though the focus was on digital transactions, there was no slowdown in recruitment by the bank. Apart from regular recruitments, “we will look for specialists on need-based requirements,” she said.

D. Sampath, chief general manager and head, network II, said the bank had 1,250 branches now and 650 of these were opened in the last couple of years.

Ms. Warrier said the bank’s capital adequacy ratio was at 12.39%. “Though we are adequately capitalised, we will be looking at raising capital in the next 12 months. This will be growth capital,” she said. The bank had tied up with SB Global Educational Resources and started the Federal Skill Academy as part of its corporate social responsibility.

71 mineral blocks to be auctioned

As many as 71 mineral blocks have been identified for auction in the current fiscal, the government said.

These include six blocks in Andhra Pradesh, 11 in Chhattisgarh, 12 blocks in Gujarat, nine in Jharkhand, the Mines Ministry said in a statement.

Besides, 18 blocks are in Maharashtra, 7 in Odisha and 8 blocks in Rajasthan, it said. In a meeting of the Coordination—cum—Empowered Committee (CCEC) of the major mineral-producing states under the chairmanship of Secretary Mines Arun Kumar held here deliberate discussion took place on preparedness for e-auction of mineral blocks for 2017-18. Representatives from seventeen states were present in the meeting.

Myriad ways in which plants handle drought stress

There are at least five ways in which plants develop the required traits, and this is a major area of study among plant biologists.

Year after year, we find several parts of India hit by drought, food-grain production affected and farmers suffering greatly. During the recent decades, this climate change-induced effect has affected not only India but many lands across the globe. How do plants react and adjust to drought mediated stress? This is an area of considerable interest and activity and we have come to understand same aspects of it.

Every school child knows that plants collect energy from sunlight, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, pick up water from the soil, and using theses, make food for us. This seemingly simple chemical reaction called photosynthesis generates not only carbohydrates but produces oxygen as well, letting us breathe and use it to help our metabolism and gain energy. The key needs for the plants are thus simple – sunlight, carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and water. If there be a shortage of any of these three, plant productivity falls.

Water crisis

Fortunately, sunlight is regular and abundant during day time. Carbon dioxide is also available in plenty (indeed it happens to be in excess, and increasing every year, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, petrol and natural gas) but it is the water shortage that has reached famine proportions in many parts of the world. How do plants react to drought conditions, what built-in mechanisms do they have, and how do they cope with drought stress—this is an area of intense activity among plant biologists.

Two recent papers throw light on these aspects of how plants adapt to drought stress.

The first one comes from the group of Dr Andy Pereira of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, in the US, who used rice as the crop plant to study.

The paper describes the various strategies that plants adapt. Drought resistance (DR) is one aspect in which enables plants to escape, avoid and tolerate drought stress. Drought escape (DE) is where a plant attempts to complete its life cycle before the onset of drought; this would involve the plant capturing a signal for the onset of drought conditions and preparing ahead of time— ‘smart’! Drought avoidance (DA) involves the ability of plants to maintain relatively higher tissue water content, despite the water the water scarcity in the soil (saving for a deficit day) and drought tolerance (DT) where in the plant endures low water content on its tissues through various adaptive traits.

How does a plant display all these traits under conditions of drought stress? The authors point out that there are at least five different ways used by plants.

  • The first is to reduce the level of photosynthesis (recall it uses water) by decreasing the leaf area (close and expose less) and slowing down the rate of photosynthesis.
  • The second is by regulating the action of the hormones present in the plant, in particular, one called abscisic acid (or ABA). During drought stress, ABA moves from the roots to the leaves, helping them close the very small openings (called stomata) in them, which allow for the entry and exit of gases (CO2, oxygen, water vapour), and reduce plant growth. Other signalling molecules called cytokinins in the plant cells also act up, delaying premature leaf ageing and death.
  • The third is to control transpiration (water release from the plant to the air) by closing the stomata, reducing water loss and reducing CO2 uptake.
  • The fourth way is to change the growth, size, shape and branching out of the roots.
  • The fifth is through what is termed osmotic adjustment. Here the pressure exerted by the contents of the cell against the cell wall or membrane is maintained sufficiently tense for stiffness (and no collapse or breakdown). Botanists call this turgor (from the Latin for swelling).

Clearly, these five processes must be controlled and triggered by genes that express proteins and other molecules that carry out the stress response. How this process is controlled has been the study of another group, led by Dr. Yanhai Yin of Iowa State University at Ames, Iowa, USA. Their paper has appeared three weeks ago. They discuss the roles of two molecules called BES1 and RD26 which play key roles in regulating plant growth under drought conditions. These two belong to the class called transcription factors, which are molecules that regulate (allow or stop) the expression of chosen genes into making the relevant protein molecules.


These two molecules thus look like they are working at cross-purposes, yet the pathways that these two regulate are highly interconnected. Dr. Yin has described them as ‘frenemies’, when the science writer Rashmi Shivni interviewed him. (Frenemies are individuals who combine in them characteristics of friends as well as enemies). “We found that these pathways are kind of like frenemies that stay together but ‘antagonise’ each other most of the time. They both bind to the same site on the DNA, but only one pathway is active, depending on the environmental conditions”. BES1 is involved in the process by which certain plant steroids regulate plant growth. RD26 is active only when the plant experiences drought stress. Greater understanding of the ‘frenemical’ action would thus lead us to help increase crop yields when drought strikes.

Sewage to battery grade

A new approach to recover sulphur from effluents

Sulphur from a contaminated pond has been successfully recovered and used in a high-performance battery. This waste-to-wealth feat was achieved by a group of researchers from CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, in Tamil Nadu.

Published recently in the journal Separation and Purification Technology, this is the first time that the sulphur recovery process was done by an integrated approach of biological and electrochemical oxidation process.

Water from a pond contaminated by sodium dithionate-processing industry was collected and studied. Sodium dithionate salt is used in many textile industries to remove the excess dye and unintended colours, thereby improving overall colour quality. It is also used in processes in leather, certain food and plastic industries. The effluents from these industries can cause a range of health and environmental hazards. Removal or reduction of the sulphur in the waste water has always been a challenge.

Bio-electrochemical process

Sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB), which have a natural ability to convert sulphate to sulphide, were used in the biological treatment process. The bacteria are capable of using sulphate instead of oxygen for their energy source. Due to reduced nutrients, the conversion rate to sulphide was very low in the pond.

After 72 hours of incubation in lab conditions with additional supply of nutrients, three dominant strains— Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Bacillus cereus, and Bacillus licheniformis —in the pond were identified. These bacteria are already used in many industries for treatment of their effluents before discharge.

When the researchers simulated the micro-enviroment where oxygen supply is less by keeping the bacteria without oxygen for 20 days and added iron powder, the bacteria liberated hydrogen sulphide gas. The gas was collected and dissolved in sodium hydroxide to form sodium sulphide. The sulphide was further oxidised to elemental sulphur using an electrochemical process.

A double-compartment cell was constructed, and on passing current, the elemental sulphur precipitated at the electrodes. Though the bacteria are used to treat industrial wastes, this is the first time an electrochemical approach is applied to further convert sulphide to elemental sulphur. This sulphur can be used in various applications such as production of sulphuric acid and liquid sulphur dioxide. Since the cost of pure sulphur is high, the new approach can help recover sulphur from waste and turn it into a resource.

When the recovered sulphur was used as cathode in lithium sulphur (Li-S) battery, a current of 1050 mAh/g was produced. After 10 cycles the current produced reduced to 840 mAh/g. The researchers are planning to conduct more studies to improve the conductivity of the sulphur in order to get higher discharge capacity.



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