14-Year-Old Indian Girl Invents Solar Ironing Cart to Reduce Smog

The teen received the prestigious Children's Climate Prize and $11,600 for her invention.
Derya Ozdemir

A 14-year-old teenage girl named Vinisha Umashankar has won the Children's Climate Prize for her invention of a wheeled cart equipped with solar panels and batteries sufficient to power a steam iron, and the story behind her smart invention is one worth reading about.

India's forest loss problem

India has an ironing problem which is taking its toll on the country's forests: 10 million ironing carts and shops use more than 11 pounds (5 kilograms) of charcoal daily to press clothes for millions of Indians, according to the government's Department of Science and Technology, Reuters U.K. reports.

Troubled by the consequences of this seemingly mundane act for Indians, Vinisha decided to take the matters into her hands. "I calculated the enormous quantity of charcoal being used, the pollution from it that worsens climate change, damages Mother Earth and human health. I wanted to create a renewable resource to replace charcoal," said Vinisha, and thus, the solar-powered ironing cart was born. 

"I researched for a viable solution and found that using solar power can effectively substitute the use of charcoal to heat an iron box," Vinisha told The New Indian Express.


Solar-powered ironing cart

She developed the invention after school over the course of six months. The first working prototype made by her was tested one year ago by the National Innovation Foundation, running under India’s Department of Science and Technology, which has also applied for a patent on her account.

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The device takes almost five hours in bright sunshine to charge, with each battery powering the iron for six hours, according to Vinisha. Moreover, the cart can also run on grid electricity or a generator whenever necessary.

Her invention has won the Children's Climate Prize, which is an international prize awarded to children who have made efforts for the climate and environment. She will be awarded $11,600 (100,000 Swedish krona) to take the project forward.

Vinisha said to Reuters U.K. that she hopes the cart "will improve incomes and health for ironing vendors and offer them a dignified life."

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