Indian Institute of Science Current Affairs - 2019

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National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development inaugurated

With the aim of addressing opportunities and challenges in development of clean coal technologies, Union Minister of Science & Technology Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development (NCCCR&D) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru. The NCCCR&D has been launched at IISc. by Department of Science & Technology (DST).

National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development (NCCCR&D)

It is a national consortium on clean coal research and development led by IISc. The partner of IISc includes IIT- Kharagpur, Madras, Guwahati, Bombay, and Hyderabad.

The consortium will work on identifying existing gaps in clean coal technology as major problem being faced by Indian power plants is high level of pollutants and low thermal efficiency.

The new centre would address several critical Research & Development (R&D) challenges towards development of clean coal technologies in tandem with developing supercritical power plant technologies, both at materials and system level.

The centre will also address challenges such as development of low emission combustion and gasification, and achieve high cycle efficiencies with reduced pollutants. IISc. has already set-up an advanced indigenous supercritical CO2 test loop at a laboratory scale.

Significance:

Scientific and collective endeavours like NCCCR&D would enable achievement of an affordable, efficient, and compact reliable clean energy system.

It would help India in achieving international targets and ‘nationally determined contributions’ on climate change which inlcudes-

  • To have at-least 40% of our total requirement of energy to be from clean energy sources by 2030 (of this India have already achieved around 34-35%)
  • Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 33% to 35% by 2030

Target beneficiaries of NCCCR&D: It includes national organisations such as the Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL), National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Bharat Heavy Electronics Ltd. (BHEL), Triveni Turbines Ltd and Tata Power.

26 million year old Species of Vine Snake found in Western Ghats

Team of researchers, from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru while attempting to study and classify snakes in Western Ghats discovered Proahaetulla antiqua, a new vine snake species. This is an ancient species which is endemic to southern Western Ghats is thought to have evolved around 26 million years ago during the mid-Oligocene.

Key Highlights

Study Funded: The study describing unique features of this snake was published in journal PLOS ONE in collaboration with researchers from Chennai Snake Park, Chennai and Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. Study was funded by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), DBT-IISc Partnership Programme and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

Vine Snakes: Vine snakes get their names due to their slender bodies and vine-like appearances. Although there are similar species in South America and Africa but Asian vine snakes, distributed throughout Asia, belong to the genus Ahaetulla. In India particularly there are 4 species of commonly distributed vine snakes, and another one was discovered in Odisha recently.

About Proahaetulla antiqua

They are named after Latin words ‘antiqua’, which means- old or ancient. The common name suggested for these individuals is ‘keeled vine snake’.

While studying evolutionary tree of Proahaetulla antiqua, researchers discovered that this species diverged from other vine snakes about 26 million years ago. Thus, they are not only a new species but also belong to a new genus. The new species faces no major extinction threats at the moment.

It was found in protected habitats of Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala (both located in the southern Western Ghats).

Significance: Discovery would not only help know more about evolution of vine snakes but also evolutionary history of Western Ghats, a landmass older than Himalayas.