Narsimha’s innovation has helped light up over a 1000 villages using discarded tube lights! And this formula is not just on paper.
Mandaji Narsimha Chary who is a resident of Nizamabad district in present-day Telangana, 39-year-old genius grew up with a real fascination for science, innovation, and experimentation.
This result of government schools would go through hours sitting in father’s furniture workshop or his uncle’s recording shop fiddling around with different materials present, leading various logical tests.
Narsimha Chary won an award at a district-level science fair for designing a model showcasing the Earth’s revolution around its axis using light plastic balls in class VI. however, life changed on a visit to a village near Navipet when he was in Class VI. There he saw so many failed tube lights in the dump yard. Seeing those tube light, he asked the electrician whether it is possible to reuse those lights. But the electrician refused to answers him.
“I thought to myself, ‘why can’t these failed tube lights be reused?’ This thought inspired me. My thoughts were directed towards how to reuse them. Thus, after school, I would visit the local public library in Navipet and read up on various components of a tube light. Back then, we didn’t have Google or other online resources, but I was determined to understand how they work, what are the components within, why tube lights fail, among other things. I would even read textbooks that were beyond my grade in school, but just to understand the components that went into running a tube light,” says Chary, in a conversation with The Better India (TBI)
In fact, Chary told the librarian that the books weren’t enough for the information sought. Seeing the interest of Chary to succeed, the librarian wrote a letter of recommendation allowing him to visit the central library at Nizamabad for a couple of years until 1993.
“By understanding all these elements, I first succeeded in lighting a failed tube light with choke and starter. After that I replaced the choke and starter with my new equipment consisting of different electronic components. See, these tube lights fail once their filaments open up, and thus lose their capacity to generate the necessary voltage to light them up. Through trial and error over the course of the next decade, I finally developed a method to re-light discarded tube lights by developing an integrated circuit sometime in 2000,” he says.
“A household fluorescent tube requires 230 Volts of charge to function. But at the start, it needs a boost of about 1800-2000 volts. This bolt of current causes the electrodes in the tube light to heat up and the lights to glow. In a regular fluorescent tube light, this is taken care of by the starter, which gives the initial surge of voltage that is required to heat the cathodes and the stabilizer that maintains a steady voltage of 230V for the lights to function. The action causes the light to flicker before lighting up. But what makes the light glow is the 500 gms of mercury gas present in the tube light that keeps it glowing for 90,000 hours. But it needs all the other connections to function properly, otherwise, it will fail to glow,” says this Discovery Channel video clip on Chary’s work
“To make a tube light glow, we need a choke, small starter, and filaments. If these fail, a tube light won’t glow. So, I removed these parts from the tube light and created this circuit using resistors, nichrome springs, diodes, transistors, capacitors, resistors, and other electrical components. This does not require a choke, starter, both filaments, frame, and even a folder to work. It basically consists of a simple circuit housed in a box with pins that connect to each end of the tube light. The simple circuit is connected to the house socket,” he tells TBI
Chary’s formula hinges on using the leftover mercury in the glass tube until it runs out. Most tube lights that fail still have 5-6 mgs of mercury left.
Awards and Social Service
Despite awards from the State government, it was a report published by Telugu magazine Eenadu in February 2000, which made his innovation hugely popular in his state. After the article, he received lakhs of letters from all over the state. In the beginning, the reception intimidated him, but he ended up using his formula for the benefit of local communities.
“Coming from a rural background, I understood the problems faced by villagers. Today, I visit rural areas and wherever they use incandescent bulbs, I replace them with re-energised tube lights using my formula. As soon as I plug in the Chary’s formula, the failed tube light lights up immediately. This equipment saves 60 per cent-70 per cent of electricity when compared to an incandescent bulb and shoots up the lifetime of a new tube light up to 200 per cent,” says Chary with a hint of pride in his voice
“Every year, the government spends hundreds of thousands of crores on electricity. Yet, India has not achieved 100 percent electrification. My goal is to be of service when it comes to providing cost-effective power to people. As part of this, I took up projects in collaboration with the Nizamabad Municipal Corporation, as well as the District Panchayat Office, to electrify discarded tube lights and set them up for lighting streets across 1,000 villages. The government was able to save around Rs 12.5 lakh due, at the end of it,”
For the municipal corporation, he also gave them a light-sensitive automatic switch on and off gadget for street lights. This has helped save them 8 lakh watts of electricity.
Working with different Municipal Corporations and Panchayats, Chary has thus far successfully re-lit 10 lakh tube lights across the country. He has even won a patent for his innovation, while receiving a whole host of awards including ‘Great Minds, Long Miles – Quest for Answers’ award issued by Siemens for innovations with great impact at the grassroots level, which got him featured on the Discovery Channel in November 2015. In December 2019, he was also felicitated at the Jagriti Sustainable Enterprise Awards for his innovation.
“In India, there are a lot of people living below the poverty line. My experiments are focussed on addressing their concerns. The cost of replacing their tubelight with a brand new one is costly. My focus has always been to reduce that cost,” he tells TBI