Tubelights give more than light to labs

Used tubelights can now be recycled into laboratory apparatus that are cheap and as good as those available in the market.

By S Rajendran
Published: Friday 15 October 1993

Tubelights give more than light to labs

Tubelights in their new avatar SCIENTISTS at the Gandhigram Rural Institute (GRI) in Tamil Nadu have found that used tubelights can be recycled into inexpensive laboratory apparatus, which will cost just one-tenth of what such apparatus costs in the market.

B V Appa Rao, head of the university's science instrumentation centre and his team have been able to develop from used tubelights more than 25 pieces of laboratory equipment such as measuring cylinders and beakers that are as good as those made in factories. The GRI has been set up mainly to undertake research on appropriate technology for rural areas. br>
Says Rao, "Our method will not only solve the problem of getting rid of used tubelights, it will also benefit thousands of students." The cost of setting up a gas-blowing unit is only Rs 5,000, a price most colleges and universities can afford, and the instruments can also be supplied to schools, say the scientists. br>
In the recycling process, first one end of the tubelight is heated, explains A Munisamy, senior technical assistant in GRI's chemistry department. After the wax and aluminium plugs are removed from both ends and the gas inside the tube has escaped, the tubelight is cleaned so that it becomes a transparent glass tube. Liquid petroleum gas-fed burners, oxygen and glass blowers are then needed to shape the glass into laboratory apparatus.

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