Monday, 26 December 2016

Current Affairs -Indian IAS Academy module-3

1.India successfully test-fired its home-grown long range intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-5:-
  • The state-of-the-art surface-to-surface missile was test fired successfully from the launch complex 4 of the Integrated Test Range from the Abdul Kalam Wheeler Island off Odisha coast. It was the fourth developmental and second canisterised trial of the missile.
Agni-5 missile

    · Agni 5 is three-stage solid propellant ICBM indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

    · Unlike other missiles of Agni series, Agni-5 is the most advanced having new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.

     · It is about 17 metre long, 2 metre wide and has launch weight of around 50 tonnes. This is the fourth developmental and second trial of the long range missile.

    · The missile is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 kilometres with nuclear warhead carrying capacity of more than 1 tonne. Thus, it can hit most northern parts of China and other parts of Asia, Europe and Africa.

     · It has not yet inducted into the Services. It carries Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV) payloads.

     ·  A single MIRV equipped missile that can deliver multiple warheads at different targets. It is also incorporates advanced technologies involving ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer for navigation and guidance.

    · Once this missile is inducted in Services, India will join the super exclusive club of countries having ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.

      · The missile will enhance India’s strategic and deterrence capabilities.

      ·  At present India in its armoury of Agni missile series, possesses Agni-I (700 km range), Agni-II (2000 km range), Agni-3 (2,500 km range) and Agni-4 ( more than 3,500 range). 

  • India has at present in its armoury of Agni series, Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni 2 with 2,000 km range, Agni 3 and Agni 4 with with 2,500 km to more than 3500 km range. After some few more trials, Agni 5 will be inducted into the services.
  • Developed by the the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the 17-metre long missile can carry a warhead of 1000kg.
  • Being a ballistic missile, Agni 5 can not be detected by most of radar systems presently in use by defence forces across the globe.
  • Agni 5, which weighs about 50 tonnes, can target almost entire China and Pakistan. It can even reach targets in Europe.
  • Reports say that India has 110-120 nuclear-capable missiles in its armoury. Missiles such as Pritvi 2 (350km), Agni 1 (700km), Agni 2 (2000km) and Agni 3 (3000km) have already been inducted into country's defence system.
  • Pakistan has about 130-140 nuclear-capable missiles which include Shaheen and Ghauri series of missiles which Islamabad has developed with the help of China and North Korea. Pakistan, however, is yet to add inter-continental missiles to its arsenal.
  • On the other hand, China has a huge stock of nearly 250 nuclear missiles, including the (DongFeng) DF series. Unconfirmed reports say the DF 31A missile has the capability of striking targets over 10,000km.
  • The Agni 5 is the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni series, part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) that started in the 1960s and was once overseen by late President APJ Abdul Kalam.
  • India joined the elite club of countries like US, Russia, the UK, France and China, which boast Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities, when it first tested the Agni-V in 2012.
  • Agni 5's test launch is the first such missile test since India joined 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in July, 2016. MTCR membership enabled India to buy high-end missile technology and also enhance its joint ventures with Russia.
  • DRDO is also working on Agni 6, which will have far more lethal strirking capabilities than its predecessor.

2.Scientists identify as world’s most heat resistant materials

  • A team of UK-based researchers have identified Hafnium carbide (HfC) and Tantalum carbide (TaC) as the world’s most heat resistant material.
  • They can withstand record melting point temperatures up to 3958°C (approx 4000°C). New Laser-heating techniques were used to find the temperature at which  TaC and HfC melted, both separately and in mixed compositions.
  • Hafnium carbide (HfC) and Tantalum carbide (TaC) are refractory ceramicse. they are extraordinarily resistant to heat. Researchers found TaC melted at 3,768 degrees Celsius, and HfC melted at 3,958 degrees Celsius. Besides, the mixed compound (Ta0.8Hf0.20C) exceeded its previous recorded melting point.These materials at present are mainly used in thermal protection systems 
  • on high-speed vehicles and as fuel cladding in the super-heated environments of nuclear reactors.
  • This discovery may pave the way for improved heat resistant shielding for the faster-than-ever hypersonic space vehicles.
  • It means that future spacecraft could become more faster than ever. Currently hypersonic aircraft travelling above Mach 5 (5 times speed of sound) speed creates very high temperatures as friction is involved when travelling this speed limit.
  • This means that these materials will enable spacecraft to withstand the extreme heat generated from leaving and re-entering the atmosphere.
3.India’s first 2G Ethanol Bio-refinery to be set up in Punjab:-

  • The foundation stone of India’s first 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery was laid at Tarkhanwala village in Bathinda, Punjab.  Central Government Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) is setting up this project at a cost of 600 crore Rupees.
  • HPCL’s bio-refinery will produce 100 kilolitres of ethanol per day i.e. 3.20 crore litres per annum from agricultural residues.
  • It will be sufficient to meet the 26% of the ethanol blending requirement of Punjab. It will also produce about 30,000 tonnes of bio-fertiliser per annum to enhance soil nutrients.
  •  It will also produce more than 1 lakh kilograms of Bio-CNG per annum which can cater to transport and clean cooking requirements.
  • It will generate employment for about 1,200-1,300 persons in the biomass supply chain. It will also generate an additional income of approximately 20 crore Rupees per annum for farmers through purchase of their agriculture residues.
  • The project will also significantly help in reducing CO2 emissions from the paddy straw which currently is being burnt after harvesting.
  •  HPCL and other state-run oil firms are planning to set up 12 2G ethanol bio-refineries across 11 states at an estimated cost of 10,000 crore Rupees.
  • These Bio-refineries will be significantly contributing towards the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) for achieving 10% Ethanol Blending in Petrol from current 5% by producing around 35-40 crore litres of ethanol annually.
  •  2nd generation ethanol is a fuel that can be manufactured from various types of biomass. Whereas 1st generation ethanol is made from the sugars and vegetable oils found in arable crops, which can be easily extracted using conventional technology.
  • In comparison, 2nd generation ethanol is made from lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues or waste, which makes it harder to extract the required fuel using conventional technology.
Common Biofuel Crops:-
  • The most common Biofuel crops include Corn, Rapeseed/Canola, Sugarcane, Palm Oil, Jatropha, Soyabean, Cottonseed, Sunflower seeds, Wheat ,Sugarbeet, Cassava, Algae, Coconut, Jojoba, Castor Beans etc.

                Biodiesel:- Biodiesel is vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl esters. It is used as a blend to Petro Diesel and denoted by B factor.
This means that 100% biodiesel is referred to as B100, while 20% biodiesel, 80% petro diesel is labelled B20. Similarly 5% biodiesel, 95% petro diesel is labelled B5.
Global biodiesel production was around 4 million tons in 2006 and around 85% of biodiesel production came from the European Union.

                Jatropha Plant:- Belongs to family Euphorbiacae, thus taxonomically related to Castor oil plant. Resistant to drought and pests, and produces seeds containing 27-40% oil. In India, Jatropha is known as Ratanjot shows resemblance with castor. Apart from Ratanjot, about nine species are reported out of which JatrophaCurcus has economic value by virtue of oil present in its seed. In 2006, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research identified first ever Jatropha variety, SDAUJ I (Chatrapati) with higher oil content and yield for commercial cultivation. The seeds contain 49.2 per cent oil and the non-edible protein in defatted seed case is 47.8 per cent. Farmers can get an average yield of 1000-1100 kg per hectare under rainfed conditions.

The ICAR recommended it for the semi-arid and arid regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. It is drought resistant and can be raised successfully in areas where annual rainfall is 300-500mm. The plant attains a height up to 8 feet and shows resistance to all major pests.

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