A device that can convert air pollution from diesel generator sets to ink is a new innovation Delhi will experiment with this year. The device, created by a start-up that has tied up with the Delhi government, can be retrofitted on diesel generators, effectively capturing 90% of particulate matter emission. The start-up, Chakr Innovation, calls the device ‘Chakr Shield’ — with ‘chakr’ or circle denoting the closing loop for black carbon.
“It uses a solion-based method and is one of a kind. It doesn’t cause an adverse impact on the environment. The captured pollutant — essentially black carbon — is processed and converted into ink and paint,” Arpit Dhupar (25), chief technology officer, said.
The Delhi-based start-up was founded by three tech graduates — Dhupar, Kushagra Srivastava (22) and Prateek Sachan (22) — in 2015. They launched a pilot project in 2016. The same year, they won the University of Chicago’s ‘Urban Labs Innovation Challenge’ — a partnership between the university and the Delhi government, which sought to crowd-source local ideas to cut pollution in the capital.
Since then, the company has raised a seed funding of Rs 1.6 crore from grants from different national and international bodies — including the Delhi government which, along with the University of Chicago, gave a grant of $100,000 in 2016. They are now working with the the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago’s India team, and the government’s Dialogue and Development Commission to pilot and test their ideas.
“This year, we are going to test the system at 25 different locations in Delhi. These tests will take place alongside 25 other sites where the device will not be present. Throughout the year, pollution levels in these locations will be compared. Our own monitors will check the air pollution levels continuously, while a third party will monitor the air in the area twice a month,” Dhupar said.
The device’s performance will be the basis on which the Delhi government will decide on whether the technology deserves large-scale implementation. The device is currently being used in IIT-Delhi and at some factories in Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad.
Retrofitting the device to diesel engines is key, as they are one of the major sources of air pollution. Dhupar said that the device traps not just PM 2.5 particles, but particles as small as 0.3 micrometres in diametre.