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SuryaGen: An IISc start-up that provides clean water and lighting

Indian Institute of Science, the country's premier research institute has a new start-up. SuryaGen, a brain child of Professor Vasant Natarajan, Department of Physics, IISc. The Professor, who studied in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and specialises in making remarkably precise measurements, has applied simple laws of physics to address the two most importantconcerns of today: access to clean and affordable drinking water and lighting. As a response to these challenges, SuryaGen has come out with a low cost solar water purifier and a salt water lamp. This is indeed in tune with the 'Make in India' campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

One in nine people worldwide does not have access to safe and clean drinking water, and 3.6 million people die of water related diseases each year. The World Bank has predicted that by the year 2025 two thirds of the world population might run out of fresh drinking water. In such a scenario, a lot of focus is being made on water conservation, filtering and recycling. But still a large part of rural India does not have safe drinking water. SuryaGen has the perfect solution to address all the major drinking water problems, specifically in rural India where people cannot afford costly water filters. “The solar water purifier is a naturally useful product for the Indian rural households where clean drinking water is scarce or unavailable. The product can transform water from any source - be it from sea, river, pond, wells, or even water collected from rain - into potable water ', says Professor Vasant.

SuryaGen's solar water purifier is based on a simple principle. Impure water is evaporated using solar energy and the vapours are condensed to pure water on a cold surface. This leaves behind bacteria, heavy metals, arsenic, fluoride and other impurities. Unlike boiled water where the killed/inactivated bacteria are left in the water itself, the solar water purifier produces water completely free from bacteria, dead or alive. The water purifier is simple in design and can produce 1.5 litres of clean and safe drinking water from 3 litres of impure water. It is low cost, ecofriendly and makes use of renewable source of energy. The purified water has been tested to be safe for drinking in several certified labs in Bangalore.

Another ground breaking innovation by Professor Vasant is the salt-water lamp. SuryaGen's salt-water lamp can power 12 LEDs with just half a litre of water and 2 tablespoons of salt. It is suitable for remote areas where grid facility is not available. The professor explains the advantage of the lamp, “The technique is completely ecofriendly because the electrodes (carbon and magnesium) can be safely disposed off. The slightly expensive magnesium electrode needs to be replaced only after 1500 hours of use, whereas the carbon electrode need not be changed at all”. The cost of the lamp, which can also be operated using seawater found in abundance, is just Rs. 700.

SuryaGen also has other affordable solutions like solar air heaters and solar ice makers and refrigeration technology. They are also working on the generation of electricity from any kind of heat source. They also provide consultancy for setting up biogas plants to generate electricity from methane.

An MIT graduate, Professor Vasant has proved that all the complex problems in life need not have a complex solutions. SuryaGen holds great promise for simple solutions to energy and water problems of rural India.

Contacts: Company website:

Vasant Natarajan
Department of Physics
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore


Office phone no: +91-80-2360 2237,+91-80-2293 3341