IIT Roorkee scientists develop machine to convert pine needles into sustainable livelihood

The machine will not only help transform the pine needles into a sustainable source of income for local communities but also help in curtailing forest fires.
Image of pine needles used for representational purposes only.
Image of pine needles used for representational purposes only. (Photo| Pexels)

DEHRADUN: Pine needles, commonly referred to as pirul, have been a primary catalyst for forest fires in Uttarakhand and other mountainous regions of the country. However, an innovative low-budget machine developed by scientists at IIT Roorkee, will not only help curtail the spread of these fires but will also help transform the pine needles into a sustainable source of income for local communities.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Dr Vinay Sharma, a scientist and project leader at the Department of Management Studies, IIT, said, "The development of the machine commenced approximately 12 years ago. Subsequently, in 2019, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change awarded us a project. As a result, the machine was engineered to compress pine needles, known as pirul, into bricks".

The research endeavor led by Dr Sharma was conducted in collaboration with Dr Rajat Agarwal. IIT has also patented this research.

"In Uttarakhand, a trial was conducted by installing 6 machines each in Chopda village above Kathgodam and Shyamkhet village near Bhawali Nainital..The trial turned out to be fully successful", Dr Sharma said.

"In 2022, 12 machines were prepared on the demand of the Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department, which has went on to become a means of livelihood for the people there," he added.

"In Himachal Pradesh as well, amidst a comparable challenge of forest fires, officials from the forest department reached out to us. We have authorized them to construct the machine," Dr Sharma said.

According to researchers, the machine weighs approximately 90 kg, allowing for easy portability between locations. When Pirul is loaded into the machine, it undergoes compression at a pressure of 1000 to 1200 PSI. No electricity or battery costs are incurred in its operation. Plans are underway to automate the process through solar technology.

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