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An Indian botanist with a passion for converting the tough, traditionally useless leaves of the sugar cane plant into fuel has won the world's largest renewable energy and conservation prize and a cool US$50,000 to fund his work in rural Maharashtra. Within hours of winning the Ashden Awards, Pune-based botanist Dr. A. D. Karve told The Times of India the prize would help his pioneering work "because Indians only pay attention and give respect to an idea once the West praises it." The West, apparently, is over the moon about the sheer simplicity and dogged determination of Karve's idea, which offers an Indian solution to a uniquely Indian problem, that of providing a clean source of renewable energy with the waste materials to hand. "He's doing absolutely wonderful things," raved Maya Vaughan of the Ashden Awards, which offer crucial support to developing countries like India for indigenous ways of generating and using green fuel. Karve's clean fuel beat off tough competition from Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya, each of which suggested new ways of using solar energy to improve their people's lives. The method, described at "source" above, chars sugar cane trash in an oven without igniting it. The resulting "char" is made into charcoal briquettes as good as any. The method isn't especially efficient, but since the trash is free, it is economically viable.

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(last edited March 19, 2002 by Kishore Balakrishnan - @bekishore - Contact for feedback and suggestions) [info] [diff] [full] EditText of this page

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