Saturday April 20, 2019

Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)

Next Story

‘Big Steps To Reduce Carbon Emission’ Apple Expects Cooperation With China on Clean Energy

It's right for the Chinese government to remain "vigilant about making sure material really doesn't end up being dumped"

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recycling robot
In response to a question over whether Apple is planning to deploy the Daisy robot system in Asia, especially in China, Jackson said Apple is looking at unique recycling solutions in China "because we have manufacturers there". Pixabay

Apple is expecting more cooperation with China on clean energy as it released its 2019 Environment Report that outlines its climate change solutions ahead of Earth Day, which falls on April 22.

In the “Environmental Responsibility Report”, Apple has set an ambitious goal to “make products without taking from the Earth” and vowed to adopt “big steps” to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from its business operations.

Apple said 44 of its suppliers have committed to 100 per cent renewable energy for their production of Apple products, Yonhap news agency reported late on Thursday.

Apple
Apple announced that it will quadruple the number of outlets in the US to recycle used iPhones returned by US customers, which will be disassembled by its recycling robot, Daisy.
Pixabay

Among them, “the majority of clean supply chain, clean energy suppliers are in China in terms of both attaining the clean energy goal and cooperation in the use of safer materials and smarter chemistry”, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, said at a recent event promoting the company’s environment initiative.

As one of Apple’s biggest manufacturers and markets in the world, China is critical to success in all of Apple’s environmental initiatives, she said.

“I think it’s important to know Chinese manufacturers can be partners in the innovation because the Chinese manufacturers have real expertise and applications which they can bring to the table,” she added.

In order to promote circular economy, Jackson said Apple is working with a number of partners including the China Association of Circular Economy to enable the movement of materials in a way that not only “protects the environment, protects innovation, but also moves us forward in reusing materials”.

Apple announced that it will quadruple the number of outlets in the US to recycle used iPhones returned by US customers, which will be disassembled by its recycling robot, Daisy.

Daisy can disassemble 15 different iPhone models at the rate of 200 per hour, according to Apple.

Apple
In the “Environmental Responsibility Report”, Apple has set an ambitious goal to “make products without taking from the Earth” and vowed to adopt “big steps” to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from its business operations. Pixabay

In response to a question over whether Apple is planning to deploy the Daisy robot system in Asia, especially in China, Jackson said Apple is looking at unique recycling solutions in China “because we have manufacturers there”.

“We need to do a lot more work in China. We need to work really closely with governments to move materials around,” she said.

“I would expect that we’re going to have some unique recycling solutions for China, and that would be great,” Jackson added.

Also Read: Researchers Develop, New Adhesive Patch That Can Minimize Heart Attack Damage
It’s right for the Chinese government to remain “vigilant about making sure material really doesn’t end up being dumped”, said Jackson.

“We don’t ever want that to happen with any of our products. So we have to continue to work to find a way that allows us to move forward and is respectful,” she noted. (IANS)