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04 September, 2019

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-I ANDREX Project
GS-III Economics behind e-vehicle batteries
Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA)
Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme
GS-I :
ANDREX Project

GS-I: ANDREX Project

News

  • Scientists have made a new discovery challenging the previous understanding of the link between the Southern Ocean next to Antarctica  and the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
  • The study published in a journal shows that biological processes far out at sea are the most important factors determining how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide.

ANDREX Project???????

  • Researchers studied the ocean circulation and carbon concentration of the Weddell Gyre  a region lying east of the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • The team studied data collected as part of the ANDREX project (Antarctic Deep water Rates of Export) which measured the physical, biological, and chemical properties of the waters in the gyre between 2008 and 2010.
  • The data considered in this study showed unambiguously that, in the Weddell Gyre, the dominant process enabling the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its removal to the deep ocean included the role of phytoplanktons.

Role of Southern Ocean in CO2 absorption

  • Carbon dioxide is absorbed in the surface oceans and stored in the deep seas, gradually, over a timescale of 100s to 1,000s years.
  • The Southern Ocean plays a critical role in how the carbon dioxide is taken out of the atmosphere.
  • It helps scientists understand its role during dramatic climate transitions in the past, such as the ice ages, and better predict the current and future climate change.
  • Whether carbon is released into the atmosphere or trapped in the deep ocean, is crucially determined by the transformation of the water from light to dense which is in turn caused by cooling at the ocean’s surface.

Outcomes

  • The dominant factor driving the uptake of carbon from the atmosphere to the ocean was not related to dense water formation in the shallow seas close to Antarctica, but rather to biological processes further out in the sea.
  • The results carry implications for our understanding of how the high-latitude Southern Ocean, close to the Antarctic continent, influences atmospheric carbon and global climate on 100 to 1000-year timescales.
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GS-III :
Economics behind e-vehicle batteries

GS-III: Economics behind e-vehicle batteries

Context

  • Shifting gears in the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), the NITI Aayog, in May this year, proposed to ban the sale of all internal combustion engine (ICE) powered three-wheelers post March 2023.
  • It also suggested that all new two-wheelers below 150cc sold after March 2025 should be electric.
  • In consonance with these proposals, the Union Budget announced tax incentives for early adopters.
  • The automobile industry had objected to the proposal and called for a practical approach in framing EV-related policies.

How are cost structures of conventional vehicles and electric vehicles different?

  • The portion of the costs of the drive train of EVs the system in a motor vehicle which connects the transmission to the drive axles in comparison to the cost of the entire vehicle is 4% lower compared to ICE vehicles.
  • This is primarily due to less part in the electric drive train.
  • However, the battery pack takes up nearly half the cost of an electric vehicle.

How has the cost of the Li-ion battery pack cost evolved in the last decade?

  • The price of these battery packs has consistently fallen over the past few years.
  • This decrease is in part due to technological improvements, economies of scale and increased demand for lithium-ion batteries.
  • Fierce competition between major manufacturers has also been instrumental in bringing down prices.
  • The chart shows the change in the price of Li-ion batteries from 2010 to 2016. It is not clear if the battery cost can be reduced even further.
  • Given that raw materials account for 60% of the cost of the battery pack, the room for further cost reduction is rather limited.

Where does India stand on EV adoption?

  • In India, EV adoption will be driven by two-wheelers rather than cars in high numbers on because India’s mobility market is driven more by two wheelers.
  • According to the NITI Aayog, 79% of vehicles on Indian roads are two-wheelers.
  • Three-wheelers and cars that cost less than ?10 lakh account for 4% and 12% of the vehicle population, respectively.
  • Two-wheelers will also need smaller batteries when compared to cars and hence the overall affordable cost.
  • India needs to manufacture Li-ion cells in-house. Now, cells are imported and “assembled” into batteries.

Are EV vehicles completely environment friendly?

  • In conventional ICEs, petrol or diesel fuels the engine.
  • However, in EVs, batteries are not the fuel; electrons supplied by the battery fuel the vehicle.
  • Presently, most of India’s electricity is generated using conventional sources.
  • In 2018-19, over 90% of India’s electricity was generated from conventional sources, including coal, and around 10% was produced from renewable sources such as solar, wind and biomass.
  • While the rate of electricity generated from renewable sources has increased over the years, more needs to be done for their adoption.

 

 

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GS-III :
Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA)

GS-III: Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA)

Background

  • Among all the causes that will eventually cause the extinction of life on Earth, an asteroid hit is widely acknowledged as one of the likeliest.
  • Over the years, scientists have suggested different ways to ward off such a hit, such as blowing up the asteroid before it reaches Earth, or deflecting it off with a spacecraft.
  • Now, scientists have embarked on a plan to test their expertise with the second of these two methods.

Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA)

  • It is an ambitious double-spacecraft mission to deflect an asteroid in space, to prove the technique as a viable method of planetary defence.
  • The mission, which includes NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), is known as the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA).
  • The target is the smaller of two bodies in the “double Didymos asteroids” that are in orbit between Earth and Mars.
  • Didymos is a near-Earth asteroid system. Its main body measures about 780 m across; the smaller body is a “moonlet” about 160 m in diameter.
  • The project aims to deflect the orbit of the smaller body through an impact by one spacecraft.
  • Then a second spacecraft will survey the crash site and gather the maximum possible data on the effect of this collision.

Tools of the mission

  • NASA is building the Double Asteroid Impact Test (DART) spacecraft for launch in summer 2021.
  • It is planned to collide with the target at 6.6 km/s in September 2022.
  • Flying along with DART will be an Italian-made miniature CubeSat, called LICIACube, to record the moment of impact.
  • ESA’s contribution is a mission called Hera, which will perform a close-up survey of the post-impact asteroid, acquiring measurements such as the asteroid’s mass and detailed crater shape.
  • Hera will also deploy a pair of CubeSats for close-up asteroid surveys and the very first radar probe of an asteroid.
  • All this would allow researchers to model the efficiency of the collision.

 

 

 

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GS-III :
Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

GS-III: Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

Context

The Union Cabinet has approved a higher procurement price for ethanol purchased by oil marketing companies for the ethanol blended petrol (EBP) programme.

Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme

  • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme was launched in January, 2003 for supply of 5% ethanol blended Petrol.
  • The programme sought to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels and to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.
  • OMCs are advised to continue according priority of ethanol from 1) sugarcane juice/sugar/sugar syrup, 2) B-heavy molasses 3) C-heavy molasses and 4) damaged food grains/other sources.
  • At present, this programme has been extended to whole of India except UTs of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands with effect from 01st April, 2019 wherein OMCs sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%.

About the decision

  • According to the new decision, the price of ethanol from C-heavy molasses will be increased from ?43.46 per litre to ?43.75 per litre.
  • The price of ethanol from B-heavy molasses will be increased from ?52.43 per litre to ?54.27 per litre. The price of ethanol from sugarcane juice, sugar, and sugar syrup has been set at ?59.48 per litre.
  • The oil marketing companies will also pay the GST and transportation tax associated with the ethanol supply  a provision that existed in the previous plan as well.
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