A startup company with a vision for the future has recently designed a retrofit emission control that collects diesel particulates to keep them from entering the atmosphere, thereby preventing the dispersal of toxic air in the environment.
In India, a country that relies heavily on diesel generators, the air pollution is palpable to say the least. Generators emitting soot and unburned diesel into the air run eight hours a day in many areas that don’t have access to conventional power grids. These emissions, and their resulting pollutants, inspired Chakr Innovation to find a solution.
Step one of the process is actually collecting the particles. These particles are so fine that the human body can’t even filter them out, instead allowing them to deposit directly into the bloodstream. No wonder they’re credited with millions of deaths every single year. In many others, diesel emissions cause problems like “respiratory ailments, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; cardiovascular diseases including stroke; and increases the likelihood of pre-term births by 18 percent,” according to the company website.
The Chakr Shield captures this death-material by collecting the particles right as they’re being released, absorbing them into a liquid and keeping them from floating back into the air.
While collecting emissions in this way is an innovative process in and of itself, Chakr Innovation takes it a step further by turning them into something useful: printer ink. The end-product is created through a process of separation and addition. First, the original particulate soot liquid is separated from the harmful substances and heavy metals. Then the pigment is extracted and mixed with a binder to create the ink.
While finding a market for the useful ink end-product is a tangible benefit to both the company and the environment, it does require other companies to be willing to pay for and install the technology in the first place. Indeed, the Chakr Shield has already been installed in more than five dozen locations. Although it began as a solution for diesel pollution stemming mostly from generators, it’s proven useful in many other industries, too. The first Chakr Shield was installed at American Tower Corporation. Today, even computer giant Dell has begun using a by-product of the collected material as an ink to print text onto boxes.
Chakr Innovations also captured the attention of major players in the sustainability market when Arpit Dhupar, founder of Chakr Innovation, won the Young Champions of the Earth prize for Asia and the Pacific region. While they are proud of the Chakr Shield and its resulting ink production, the company’s focus is still firmly aimed at the future. They see themselves as innovators and continue to look for ways to filter air from chimneys, boilers, incinerators, and ships.
“Soot is very fine, almost 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of hair,” Dhupar says. “The carbon we are collecting has a high surface area and can be used to purify water. We would then be using air pollution to tackle water pollution! But experiments are still in their early phases.”