Daily Prelims Notes 6 February 2023
- February 6, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: Uncategorized
Daily Prelims Notes
6 February 2023
Table Of Contents
- India budgets for mangroves and wetlands
- Mission Sahbhagita
- Delhi Cabinet likely to approve ₹2,000-crore project to tackle air pollution
- Working with biomaterials to add to the sustainable energy mix
- About Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP)
- Green Deal Industrial Plan
- Muon tomography or muography
- Environmental concerns about Ship dismantling
- India Semiconductor Mission (ISM)
- Sickle cell disease (SCD)
- Amorphous Ice
- National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)
- Supreme Court celebrates the 73rd anniversary
- Thorium is key to our net zero goals
- ChatGPT developed by Open AI has gained wider popularity
- IIT-M to set up National Centre for lab-grown diamonds
1. India budgets for mangroves and wetlands
Subject : Environment
Context: India’s 2023-24 budget announces new schemes for mangroves and wetlands.
More on the News:
- India’s finance minister has announced two major programmes – MISHTI, Amrit Dharohar for mangrove plantation and wetlands conservation in the country’s latest annual budget.
MISHTI (Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes)
- MISHTI is a new programme that will facilitate mangrove plantations along India’s coastline and on salt pan lands.
- It will aim at the intensive afforestation of coastal mangrove forests.
- The programme will operate through convergence between MGNREGS, CAMPA Fund and other sources.
Amrit Dharohar Scheme:
- The Amrit Dharohar scheme will be implemented over the next three years to encourage optimal use of wetlands, and enhance biodiversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities and income generation for local communities.
- The scheme will emphasize on the importance of wetlands and their preservation with an outlook that is inclusive of local communities as caretakers of the ecosystem.
- Mangroves are salt-tolerant plant communities found in tropical and subtropical intertidal regions.
- They are important refuges of coastal biodiversity and also act as bio-shields against extreme climatic events.
- Mangrove forests are formed when there is intertidal flow and where adequate sediments are available for the trees to set down roots.
- The tree species that form a mangrove forest or ecosystem are broadly classified as true mangroves and mangroves associates. True mangroves are the ones which display morphological adaptations for a high saline mangrove ecosystem such as pneumatophores, vivipary or crypto vivipary germination and salt-secreting cells.
- India has about 4,992 sq km (0.49 million hectares) of mangroves, according to the Indian State of Forest Report (IFSR) 2021. Mangroves in India are distributed across nine States and three Union Territories with West Bengal having the highest mangrove cover of 2,114 sq km.
- The IFSR report also points out that there has been an increase in the mangrove cover from 4,046 sq km in 1987 to 4,992 sq km in 2021.
- ‘State of World Mangroves 2022’ points out that mangroves are estimated to hold up to four times the amount of carbon as some other ecosystems.
- The loss of even 1% of remaining mangroves could lead to the loss of 0.23 gigatons of CO2 equivalent, equating to over 520 million barrels of oil, the report states
- An initiative like MISHTI is in line with India’s Nationally Determined Contributions announced by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, through additional more forest and tree cover by 2030.
- India joined the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties in Egypt.
Subject : Environment
Section : Ecosystem
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched Mission Sahbhagita in 2022
- A mission of ‘a healthy and effectively managed network of 75 wetlands of national and international significance which support water and food security; buffer from floods, droughts, cyclones and other extreme events; employment generation; conservation of species of local, national and international significance; climate change mitigation and adaptation actions; and recognition, conservation and celebration of cultural heritage.’
3. Delhi Cabinet likely to approve ₹2,000-crore project to tackle air pollution
Subject : Environment
Section Air Pollution
Context: Delhi government will outsource the operations and management of these machines.
More on the News:
- The Delhi Cabinet is likely to approve a proposal to outsource the operations and management of 70 mechanical road sweepers, 210 water sprinklers and around 250 integrated water sprinklers-cum-anti-smog guns to a private company instead of purchasing them.
- Mechanical road sweepers and sprinklers are believed to be more effective than manual sweeping in reducing dust pollution.
- Anti-smog guns help reduce air pollution by spraying nebulised water droplets through high-pressure propellers. The sprayed water increases the mass of air-borne particles and brings them down to the ground.
- Integrated sprinklers-cum-anti-smog-guns will be mounted on trucks that will also be fitted with water tanks.
Reason for Air pollution in Delhi https://optimizeias.com/soon-delhis-air-pollution-sources-to-be-available-in-real-time/
4. Working with biomaterials to add to the sustainable energy mix
Subject : Science and Technology
Context: Researchers are experimenting with silk cocoon, spider silk and other natural materials to harvest electricity.
More on the News:
- Tiny bio-batteries from natural materials that can create and generate electricity at a low scale, perhaps even at the household level, is a new area of investigation that scientists hope could be a route towards a sustainable future.
- Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and the University of Central Florida, in the U.S., are banking on silk, a complex membrane protein, to craft a device that can power a kitchen.
- The battery prototype developed can be charged with water vapour and is inspired by the ecology of cocoons of silkworms. When dry, silk cocoon membrane behaves like an insulator. On absorbing moisture, it generates electrical current, which is modulated by temperature.
- The inherent challenges to designing and fabricating such devices are the complexity of extraction of such proteins and their short shelf life. The scientists bypassed the challenge of membrane protein isolation by using a naturally occurring robust protein membrane in silk cocoon.
- When the silk cocoon membrane is placed between two electrodes and exposed to water vapour, it generates current to power LEDs. LED stops glowing when we switch off the water vapour
- It can be installed in kitchens in remote areas, or body patches to measure physiological properties like dehydration, salt loss, perspiration, and even anxiety.
- Invention is eco-friendly
- Ensure sustainable rural connectivity
- Use truly local materials and technology and can replace for expensive photoelectric cells.
5. About Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP)
Section: Climate change
- Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) is emerging as the key mechanism for multilateral financing by developed countries to support an energy transition in developing countries. This has taken on particular significance following the insertion of the phrase ‘phase-down’ of coal in the Glasgow Pact. After South Africa, Indonesia, and Vietnam, India is considered the next candidate for a JET Partnership
- JETP is an initiative of the rich nations to accelerate the phasing out of coal and reducing emissions.
- The JETP initiative is modelled for South Africa, to support South Africa’s decarbonisation efforts.
- It aims to reduce emissions in the energy sector and accelerate the coal phase-out process.
- JETP makes various funding options available for this purpose in identified developing countries.
- The JETP was launched at the COP26 in Glasgow with the support of the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), France, Germany, and the European Union (EU)
- Following that G7 has announced for a similar partnership in India, Indonesia, Senegal, and Vietnam.
Subject : Environment
Section: Climate Change
Context: In a bid to support and expand its green industry, the European Union on February 1 revealed the “Green Deal Industrial Plan” that aims to cut red tape and provide massive subsidies.
‘Green Deal Industrial Plan’ oversees trade policy of the EU, the proposal involves building a simpler regulatory framework, providing faster access to funds, enhancing skills and improving the EU’s trade network.
- Simpler regulatory framework:
- A “Net-Zero Industry Act”, which will not only simplify rules but also speed up the issuance of permits for green projects, such as renewable energy generation arrays, carbon capture and renewable hydrogen production facilities.
- A “Critical Raw Materials Act”, which will provide access to materials like rare earths that are crucial for developing net-zero technology.
- Providing faster access to funds:
- The state aid rules will be loosened in order to help EU’s 27 governments with investing in the clean energy projects.
- The plan allows countries to take money from existing EU funds. It seeks to direct €250 billion to serve the green industry from the existing EU money, which is around €800 billion.
- “European Sovereignty Fund” in the future to “give a structural answer to the investment needs”
- Enhancing skills: The plan aims to establish “Net-Zero Industry Academies” that will provide up-skilling and re-skilling programmes in strategic industries. As 30 to 40 per cent of the existing jobs might get affected due to green transition, there’s a need for well-paid quality jobs.
- Improving the trade network: The plan underlines the importance of open trade and seeks to further “develop the EU’s network of Free Trade Agreements and other forms of cooperation with partners to support the green transition.”
7. Muon tomography or muography
Subject : Science and Technology
Context: Published in the Journal of Applied Physics, the study, ‘High-precision muography in archaeogeophysics: A case study on Xi’an defensive walls’, has been conducted by a team of scientists from Lanzhou University, China, and China Institute of Atomic Energy.
What are muons?
- Muons are subatomic particles raining from space. They are created when the particles in Earth’s atmosphere collide with cosmic rays, clusters of high-energy particles that move through space at just below the speed of light. About 10,000 muons reach every square metre of the Earth’s surface a minute.
- Muons are tiny outer space particles that can penetrate hundreds of metres of stone surfaces. These particles have helped them find small density anomalies, which are potential safety hazards, inside the wall.
- These particles resemble electrons but are 207 times as massive, they are sometimes called “fat electrons”. muons are so heavy; they can travel through hundreds of metres of rock or other matter before getting absorbed or decaying into electrons and neutrinos.
- In comparison, electrons can penetrate through only a few centimetres. Muons are highly unstable and exist for just 2.2 microseconds.
What is muon tomography or muography?
- Muon tomography was first used in the 1960s, uses muons to generate three-dimensional images of such large structures.
- Muography is conceptually similar to X-ray but capable of scanning much larger and wider structures, owing to the penetration power of muons.
- As these high-energy particles are naturally produced and ubiquitous, one has to place a muon detector underneath, within or near the object of interest. The detector then tracks the number of muons going through the object from different directions, to form a three-dimensional image.
- Muography has gained increasing attention from archaeologists as a novel and innovative tool to investigate large-scale archaeological sites. This approach may be especially helpful for identifying endangered cultural relics and monuments.
- Muography has found use in customs security, internal imaging of volcanoes and others.
- It was Used in research of Mount Vesuvius volcano in Italy,Fukushima nuclear reactors after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan,A muon detector, called CORMIS (Cosmic Ray Muon Imaging System), to examine the wall of Xi’an city. for hidden chambers in the Pyramid of Khafre in Giza.
8. Environmental concerns about Ship dismantling
Subject : Environment
Context: Brazil’s navy planned to scuttle the hull of the decommissioned aircraft carrier Sao Paulo despite protests from Brazil’s environment ministry. The major concern about the aged ship’s sinking is the presence of at least nine tons of asbestos in the hull, along with smaller quantities of other undesirable substances such as oil and chemical coatings.
- Globally, about 70 countries have banned the use of asbestos, but those such as the US, India and China have not.
- Despite being banned from ships since 2002, recent estimates indicate that asbestos is “still found in over 65 per cent of vessels, including 50 per cent of all new builds.”
- Asbestos has been used on ships as both a fire retardant and an insulator to protect sailors from the constant and jarring vibrations of ships’ engines.Asbestos is a silicate compound found naturally in the environment and the mining operations used to extract it from the hills which had a rich source of this compound.
- Asbestos is a strong incombustible fibre which is used for fireproofing and insulation. It also has a very high tensile strength. Consequently, it has umpteen uses — cement roofing sheets and piping and textile and automobile industries.
- It releases from scuttling the ship in the middle of the ocean is likely to release high quantities of asbestos into the water which runs the risk of entering our food cycle.
- The presence and removal of plastics, ozone depleting substances, bilge water containing oil, oil sludge, anti-fouling paints, polystyrene, foam, ash, glass, and insulation.
- Waste discharges to the sea and environment surrounding the recycling facility are also potential risks. Dismantling can impact on air, water, and soil quality, therein affecting biodiversity and local ecosystems. And recycling can generate heavy metals and pollutants in cutting areas.
- The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted on 22 March 1989 by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Basel, Switzerland.
- Basel Convention’s thrust at the time of its adoption was to combat the “toxic trade”.
- The Basel Convention, which entered into force in 1992, regulates the international trade of hazardous wastes and is relevant for ship dismantling as a ship usually contains hazardous materials in its structure
NGO Shipbreaking Platform
- The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is a global coalition of organisations working to reverse the environmental harm and human rights abuses caused by current shipbreaking practices and to ensure the safe and environmentally sound dismantling of end-of-life ships worldwide.
- The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is a coalition of environmental, human and labour rights organisations.
- Its goal is to find sustainable solutions that encompass the principles of human rights, corporate accountability, environmental justice, “polluter pays”, producer responsibility and clean production.
9. India Semiconductor Mission (ISM)
Subject :Science and Technology
- India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) has been setup as an Independent Business Division within Digital India Corporation having administrative and financial autonomy to formulate and drive India’s long-term strategies for developing semiconductors and display manufacturing facilities and semiconductor design ecosystem.
- ISM is serving as the nodal agency for efficient, coherent and smooth implementation of the programme for development of semiconductor and manufacturing ecosystem in India.
Objectives of ISM are as under:
- Formulate a comprehensive long-term strategy for developing sustainable semiconductors and display manufacturing facilities and semiconductor design eco-system in the country in consultation with the Government ministries / departments / agencies, industry, and academia.
- Facilitate the adoption of secure microelectronics and developing trusted semiconductor supply chain, including raw materials, specialty chemicals, gases, and manufacturing equipment.
- Enable a multi-fold growth of Indian semiconductor design industry by providing requisite support in the form of Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools, foundry services and other suitable mechanisms for early-stage start-ups.
- Promote and facilitate indigenous Intellectual Property (IP) generation.
- Encourage, enable and incentivize Transfer of Technologies (ToT).
- Establish suitable mechanisms to harness economies of scale in Indian semiconductor and display industry.
- Enable cutting-edge research in semiconductors and display industry including evolutionary and revolutionary technologies through grants, global collaborations and other mechanisms in academia / research institutions, industry, and through establishing Centres of Excellence (CoEs).
- Enable collaborations and partnership programs with national and international agencies, industries and institutions for catalysing collaborative research, commercialization and skill development.
Subject: Science and Technology
Context: In the union budget of FY 2023-24, it is announced to launch a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047.
- Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic single gene disorder causing a debilitating systemic syndrome characterized by chronic anaemia, acute painful episodes, organ infarction and chronic organ damage and by a significant reduction in life expectancy.
- It is characterized by a modification in the shape of the red blood cell from a smooth, donut-shape into a crescent or half-moon shape.
- These cells lack plasticity and can block small blood vessels, impairing blood flow. This condition leads to shortened red blood cell survival, and subsequent anaemia, often called sickle-cell anaemia.
- This leads to chronic acute pain syndromes, severe bacterial infections, and necrosis (tissue death).
- Anaemia is a medical condition in which the red blood cell count or haemoglobin is less than normal. Symptoms of anaemia include Fatigue, Shortness of breath, Hair loss etc.
Treatment: It can be managed by simple procedures including:
- High fluid intake
- Healthy diet
- Folic acid/Iron supplementation
- Pain medication
- Vaccination and antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections
- A number of other therapeutic measures.
- Sickle cell disease (SCD), which is the most prevalent inherited blood disorder, is widespread amongst many tribal population groups in India
- The disease in India is prevalent predominantly in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, western Odisha, eastern Gujarat and in pockets of the Nilgiri Hills in north Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- Under National Health Mission, Government of India supports the states for prevention and management of sickle cell disease. Further in terms of treatment, support is given under NHM for capsule hydroxyurea, free blood transfusion for all Sickle cell patients (men & women) as per State’s proposal.
- In the union budget of FY 2023-24, it is announced to launch a mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047. The mission entails focus on awareness creation, universal screening of approximately seven crore people in the 0-40 years age group in affected tribal areas and counselling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments.
Subject : Science and technology
- Scientists have created a new type of ice called Amorphous Ice that matches the density and structure of water.
- The ice is called medium-density amorphous ice.
- The researchers shook regular ice in a small container with centimetre-wide stainless-steel balls at temperatures of (–) 200 °C to produce the variant, which has never been seen before. The ice appeared as a white granular powder that stuck to the metal balls.
- Amorphous ice (non-crystalline or “vitreous” ice) is an amorphous solid form of water.
- Normally, when water freezes, it crystallizes and its molecules are arranged into the familiar hexagonal, solid structure that we call ice. Amorphous ice lacks long-range order in its molecular arrangement.
- Amorphous ice is produced either by rapid cooling of liquid water (so the molecules do not have enough time to form a crystal lattice), or by compressing ordinary ice at low temperatures.
- Although almost all water ice on Earthis the familiar crystalline ice Ih, amorphous ice dominates in the depths of interstellar medium, making this likely the most common structure for H2O in the universe at large.
- Types : Just as there are many different crystallineforms of ice (currently more than seventeen are known), there are also different forms of amorphous ice, distinguished principally by their densities.
- Amorphous ice may be formed when liquid water is cooled to its glass transition temperature (about 136 K or −137 °C) in milliseconds to prevent the spontaneous nucleation of crystals.
- Pressure is another important factor in the formation of amorphous ice, and changes in pressure may cause one form to convert into another.
- Cryoprotectants can be added to water to lower its freezing point (like antifreeze) and increase viscosity, which inhibits the formation of crystals.
12. National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)
Subject: Science and technology
- From papers dating back to 1913 to a 1986 letter of support from Manmohan Singh to MS Swaminathan, a temperature-controlled space at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru tells the story of the evolution of scientific work in India over the course of a century.
- This centre houses 24 collections comprising more than 1,50,000 scientific objects – paper based manuscripts, negatives, photographs, books, fine art, audio recordings etc.
National Centre for Biological Sciences
- National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, Karnataka, is a research centre specialising in biological research.
- It is a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) under the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India.
- The mandate of NCBS is basic and interdisciplinary research in the frontier areas of biology.
- The research interests of the faculty are in four broad areas ranging from the study of single molecules to systems biology.
- NCBS focuses on fundamental research from diverse fields of biology including Biochemistry, Biophysics, Bioinformatics, Neurobiology, Cellular Organization and Signalling, Genetics and Development, Theory and Modelling of Biological Systems, Ecology and Evolution etc.
13. Supreme Court celebrates the 73rd anniversary
Subject : Polity
Section : Judiciary
- The Supreme Court of India is hosting its first-ever celebration of the 73rd anniversary of its establishment.
- This year’s event is being aired on social media platforms and will witness Singapore’s Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who is of Indian origin, as the chief guest.
When was the Supreme Court Founded?
- On the January 28, 1950, two days after India became a sovereign democratic republic, the Supreme Court of India came into being.
- The inauguration took place in the Chamber of Princes in the Parliament building which was the home to the Federal Court of India for 12 years preceding the Supreme Court’s establishment.
- The Parliament House was to be the home of the Supreme Court for years that were to follow until the court acquired its own present building with lofty domes and its signature spacious colonnaded verandas in 1958.
- The original Constitution of 1950 envisaged a Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and 7 puisne judges – leaving it to Parliament to increase this number.
Brief History of the Supreme Court of India
- The promulgation of Regulating Act of 1773 established the Supreme Court of Judicature at Calcutta as a Court of Record, with full power & authority.
- It was established to hear and determine all complaints for any crimes and also to entertain, hear and determine any suits or actions in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
- The Supreme Courts at Madras and Bombay were established by King George – III in 1800 and 1823
- The India High Courts Act 1861 created High Courts for various provinces and abolished Supreme Courts at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay and also the Sadar Adalats in Presidency towns.
- These High Courts had the distinction of being the highest Courts for all cases till the creation of Federal Court of India under the Government of India Act 1935.
- The Federal Court had jurisdiction to solve disputes between provinces and federal states and hear appeal against Judgements from High Courts.
- After India attained independence in 1947, the Constitution of India came into being on 26 January 1950. The Supreme Court of India also came into existence and its first sitting was held on 28 January 1950.
- The law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all Courts within the territory of India.
- It has the power of judicial review – to strike down the legislative and executive action contrary to the provisions and the scheme of the constitution, the distribution of power between Union and States or inimical to the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
What are the Constitutional Provisions?
- The Indian constitution provides for a provision of Supreme Court under Part V (The Union) and Chapter 6 (The Union Judiciary).
- Articles 124 to 147 in Part V of the Constitution deal with the organization, independence, jurisdiction, powers and procedures of the Supreme Court.
- The Indian constitution under Article 124(1) states that there shall be a Supreme Court of India constituting of a Chief Justice of India (CJI) and, until Parliament by law prescribes a larger number, of not more than seven other Judges.
- The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India can broadly be categorized into original jurisdiction, appellate jurisdiction and advisory jurisdiction. However, there are other multiple powers of the Supreme Court.
Seat of Supreme Court
- The Constitution declares Delhi as the seat of the Supreme Court. It also authorizes the CJI to appoint other place or places as seat of the Supreme Court.
- He can take decision in this regard only with the approval of the President. This provision is only optional and not compulsory.
- This means that no court can give any direction either to the President or to the Chief Justice to appoint any other place as the seat of the Supreme Court.
Jurisdiction and Powers of Supreme Court
- As a Federal court, the Supreme Court decides disputes between different units of the Indian Federation. More elaborately, any dispute between:
- the Centre and one or more states; or
- the Centre and any state or states on one side and one or more states on the other; or
- between two or more states.
- In the above federal disputes, the Supreme Court has exclusive original jurisdiction.
- The Supreme Court is empowered to issue writs, including habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo-warranto and certiorari for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of an aggrieved citizen.
- In this regard, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in the sense that an aggrieved citizen can go directly to the Supreme Court, not necessarily by way of appeal.
- However, the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is not exclusive. The High Courts are also empowered to issue writs for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights.
- The Supreme Court is primarily a court of appeal and hears appeals against the judgements of the lower courts. It enjoys a wide appellate jurisdiction which can be classified under four heads:
- Appeals in constitutional matters
- Appeals in civil matters
- Appeals in criminal matters
- Appeals by special leave
- The Constitution under Article 143 authorises the President to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court in the two categories of matters:
- On any question of law or fact of public importance which has arisen or which is likely to arise.
- On any dispute arising out of any pre-constitution treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, sanador other similar instruments.
Court of Record
- As a Court of Record, the Supreme Court has two powers:
- The judgements, proceedings and acts of the Supreme Court are recorded for perpetual memory and testimony. These records are admitted to be of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned when produced before any court.
- They are recognized as legal precedents and legal references.
- It has power to punish for contempt of court, either with simple imprisonment for a term up to six months or with fine up to 2,000 or with both.
Power of Judicial Review
- Judicial review is the power of the Supreme Court to examine the constitutionality of legislative enactments and executive orders of both the Central and state governments.
- On examination, if they are found to be violative of the Constitution (ultra-vires), they can be declared as illegal, unconstitutional and invalid (null and void) by the Supreme Court. Consequently, they cannot be enforced by the Government.
14. Thorium is key to our net zero goals
Subject: Science and technology
Section: Nuclear Technology
- Apart from coal, thorium is the only abundant energy source in India. Recent developments at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC) give hope that this mineral can be India’s answer to green energy.
- BARC is working on several technologies for using thorium, of which two are noteworthy.
- One is the ‘Indian high temperature reactor’ (IHTR), which is designed to produce heat and, in turn, produce hydrogen through the ‘sulphuriodine’ method.
- The other important thorium technology at BARC is the ‘Indian molten salt breeder reactor’(IMSBR). This 5MW pilot project in Visakhapatnam is cloaked in secrecy, with BARC declining to share information about it.
High temperature nuclear reactors
- High temperature nuclear reactors (HTRs) represent a novel way to produce hydrogen at large scale with high efficiency and less carbon footprint.
- High Temperature Reactor (HTR) technology has been developed from the late 1940s in US and Germany.
- The present Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR), operating at >7500 C, has over the years, evolved into a new reactor concept, designed to be a very efficient and safe system.
- It is a helium-gas cooled, graphite-moderated, thermal neutron spectrum reactor, which can provide electricity and process heat for wide-ranging applications, including hydrogen production.
- Hydrogen production through fossil fuels entails CO2 emissions. Therefore splitting of water to produce hydrogen is a better alternative.
- There are several methods to extract hydrogen from water and two of the highly used processes are
- High Temperature Electrolysis (HTE) and
- Thermo-chemical cycles.
- Both these processes require very high temperatures, which can be provided by the VHTRs.
Indian high temperature reactor
- Indian High Temperature Reactor (HTR) technology development programme is aimed at nuclear hydrogen production by splitting water.
- Indian HTR development programme has two elements:
- a 100 kW (thermal), 1,000 degrees C portable ‘compact high-temperature reactor’ (CHTR) for technology demonstration;
- a 600 MW (thermal), 1,000 degrees C ‘Indian high-temperature reactor hydrogen’, or IHTR-H.
- These two reactors would be powered by ‘TRISO-coated particle’ fuel. TRISO — ‘tristructural isotropic’ — comprises uranium, carbon and oxygen, all of which India can make.
- The IHTR-H is designed to produce about 7,000 kg of hydrogen, 18 MWhr (thermal) of energy per hour and 9 million litres of water a day.
Indian molten salt breeder reactor ( IMSBR )
- The Indian molten salt breeder reactor (IMSBR) is the platform to burn thorium as part of 3rd stage of Indian nuclear power programme.
- The fuel in IMSBR is in the form of a continuously circulating molten fluoride salt which flows through heat exchangers for ultimately transferring heat for power production to Super-critical CO2 based Brayton cycle (SCBC) so as to have larger energy conversion ratio as compared to existing power conversion cycle.
- Because of the fluid fuel, online reprocessing is possible, extracting the 233Pa (formed in conversion chain of 232Th to 233U) and allowing it to decay to 233U outside the core, thus making it possible to breed even in thermal neutron spectrum.
- Hence IMSBR can operate in self-sustaining 233U-Th fuel cycle. Additionally, being a thermal reactor, the 233U requirement is lower (as compared to fast spectrum), thus allowing higher deployment potential.
- These reactors require several new technology development which are being undertaken by BARC.
- These include 7Li enrichment, salt preparation and purification, salt characterisation and chemistry, structural material development and characterisation, nuclear grade graphite development and characterisation, component development, SCBC and reprocessing for IMSBR.
- In addition, a dedicated facility, Molten Salt Breeder Reactor Developmental Facility (MSBRDF) is being designed for full scale demonstration of all major systems for the 5 MWth IMSBR.
- BARC has also developed Ni-Mo-Cr-Ti alloy for the vessel. R&D is being undertaken for fuel salt optimisation, characterisation, salt preparation, thermal hydraulic and corrosion studies of IMSBRs.
Subject : Science and technology
- Drug resistant tuberculosis (DRTB) has posed a significant public health challenge for decades.
- After 50 years, a new drug to treat TB — bedaquiline —was approved. It had been developed with significant public funding, including from the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
- Bedaquiline is now core to WHO recommended treatment regimens,thanks to the collective work of the TB community and treatment providers. Despite the joint effort, it is Johnson & Johnson (J&J) that holds a monopoly on the drug in many countries.
- A formulation patent would not prevent generic manufacturers from developing the active pharmaceutical ingredient in their own formulations after July 2023.
- Bedaquiline is a medication used to treat active tuberculosis.
- Specifically, it is used to treat multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) along with other medications for tuberculosis.
- It is a oral drug.
- It is an infectious disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. TB is spread from person to person through the air.
- About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with disease and cannot transmit the disease.
Drug-resistant forms of TB
- Misuse or inappropriate use, as well as poor quality of antibiotics have resulted into drug-resistant forms of TB. These drug-resistant forms range from multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) up to extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB):
- Multi-drug resistant TB: It is resistant to at least Isoniazid and Rifampicin, two of the most effective TB drugs. It can only be treated with expensive, newer antibiotics over a longer period.
- Extensively drug-resistant TB: It is resistant to almost all forms of medical treatment with little hope of survival for the victims.
Is Tuberculosis Curable?
- Tuberculosis is curable and preventable but it is a complex disease. On the one hand, it can affect different areas of the human body, such as the lungs, the lymph nodes, the skeletal system or the brain.
- On the other hand, different types of TB exist, which can either be completely curable, but in the case of drug-resistant forms could also mean certain death.
TB Burden in India
- As per the Global TB Report 2017, India accounts for about a quarter of the world’s TB cases (approx.28, 00,000 occurred and 4.5 lakh people died due to TB) and also shares the highest burden of both TB and MDR TB.
- There are an estimated 79,000 multi-drug resistant TB patients among the notified cases of pulmonary TB each year.
- India is also the country with the second highest number (after South Africa) of estimated HIV associated TB cases.
- India also has more than a million “missing” cases every year that are not notified and most remain either undiagnosed or unaccountably and inadequately diagnosed and treated in the private sector.
The National Strategic Plan (2017-2025):
- It is crafted in line with other health sector strategies and global efforts, such as the draft National Health Policy 2015, WHO’s End TB Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals.
- It is aiming to achieve elimination of TB, by 2025. During plan period, targets for TB are:
- 80% reduction in TB incidence (i.e. reduction from 211 per lakh to 43 per lakh)
- 90% reduction in TB mortality (i.e. reduction from 32 per lakh to 3 per lakh)
- 0% patient having catastrophic expenditure due to TB
- TB elimination have been integrated into the four strategic pillars of “Detect – Treat – Prevent – Build” (DTPB).
- It has also linked Bank Account, AADHAR and NIKSHAY for direct cash benefits to patients.
16. ChatGPT developed by Open AI has gained wider popularity
Subject : Science and technology
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) research company OpenAI on recently announced ChatGPT, a prototype dialogue-based AI chatbot capable of understanding natural language and responding in natural language.
- So far, Open AI has only opened up the bot for evaluation and beta testing but API access is expected to follower.
- With Application Programme Interface(API) access, developers will be able to implement ChatGPT into their own software.
- But even under its beta testing phase, ChatGPT’s abilities are already quite remarkable.
- Aside from amusing responses like the pumpkin one above, people are already finding real-world applications and use cases for the bot.
- ChatGPT is a chatbot built on a large-scale transformer-based language model that is trained on a diverse dataset of text and is capable of generating human-like responses to prompts.
- A human like language model: It is based on GPT-3.5, a language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text.
- It is more engaging with details: However, while the older GPT-3 model only took text prompts and tried to continue on that with its own generated text, ChatGPT is more engaging. It’s much better at generating detailed text and can even come up with poems.
- Keeps the memory of the conversations: Another unique characteristic is memory. The bot can remember earlier comments in a conversation and recount them to the user.
- Human- like resemblance: A conversation with ChatGPT is like talking to a computer, a smart one, which appears to have some semblance of human-like intelligence.
How does ChatGPT work?
- ChatGPT is trained with AI and machine learning to provide information and responses through a conversational interface instead of already system-generated or “computerized” responses.
- It is trained on a huge sample of text taken from the internet. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.
- It can even recall previous comments in a conversation and relay them to the user.
How can it be useful?
- ChatGPT can be used in real-world applications like generating content for websites, answering customer inquiries, providing recommendations as well as creating automated chatbots. It can even discover new knowledge for the user and can play the role of a virtual assistant.
What are ChatGPT’s limitations?
- Open AI claims ChatGPT will occasionally produce inaccurate information and that its knowledge is restricted to global events that occurred before 2021. AI technology can also perpetuate societal biases like those around race, gender, and culture.
17. IIT-M to set up National Centre for lab-grown diamonds
Subject : Science and technology
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in the budget 2023-24, the government’s proposal to focus on lab-grown diamonds by reducing the Customs duty on the seeds used in lab-grown diamond manufacturing.
- FM also announced a grant to IITs to facilitate the growth of Lab-Grown Diamonds in India.
- This will encourage the indigenous production of LGD seeds, machines and to reduce import dependency.
- Lab-grown diamonds (LGD) are diamonds that are produced in laboratories, using specific technology which mimics the geological processes that grow natural diamonds.
Production Process of LGDs:
- LGDs are mostly manufactured through two processes – high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) method or Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) method.
- High pressure, high temperature (HPHT) method: HPHT method requires extremely heavy presses that can produce up to 730,000 psi of pressure under extremely high temperatures (at least 1500 celsius).
- Usually graphite is used as the “diamond seed” and when subjected to these extreme conditions, the relatively inexpensive form of carbon turns into one of the most expensive carbon forms.
- Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)method: A thin slice of diamond seed is placed in a sealed chamber and heated to around 800 degrees celsius, and then the chamber is filled with other carbon rich gases such as methane.
- The gases are ionised into plasma using microwaves, lasers, and other techniques. The ionisation breaks down the gases and allows the carbon to merge with the diamond seed, growing the diamond up layer by layer.
- Both HPHT and CVD methods of growing diamonds artificially begin with a seed — a slice of another diamond.
- LGDs have basic properties similar to natural diamonds, including their optical dispersion, which provide them the signature diamond sheen. However, since they are created in controlled environments, many of their properties can be enhanced for various purposes.
- LGDs are most often used for industrial purposes, in machines and tools. Their hardness and extra strength make them ideal for use as cutters.
- Pure synthetic diamonds have high thermal conductivity, but negligible electrical conductivity. This combination is invaluable for electronics where such diamonds can be used as a heat spreader for high-power laser diodes, laser arrays and high-power transistors