Despite being the most crucial constituent for the sustenance of life, the callousness with which we abuse the very air we breathe is quite disheartening.
From the burning of fossil fuels to splaying huge percentages of industrial and vehicular emissions, we choose to remain oblivious to the severe damage being inflicted to the atmosphere.
In India, the situation seems to be on a downward spiral with the number of deaths owing to air pollution having surpassed that of China in 2015, according to a survey.
And who would forget the horrors that New Delhi woke up to following Diwali last year with ambient air pollution level hitting an all-time high and a burgeoning increase in the number of patients with respiratory ailments?
Now a group of students from the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Manipal University have come up with a stupendous innovation that could put an end to air pollution woes in the country—a green billboard!
Conceived by Dhruv Suri, an aeronautical engineering student, GreenBoard incorporates an air purifier, also known as carbon dioxide scrubber, into an ordinary billboard and purifies the air as it flows through it.
Along with fellow engineering batch mates Rahil Nayak and Priyanshi Somani, it took Dhruv a period of 14 months to turn the concept into reality.
“It looks like a normal billboard with an advertisement in the front, but inside is the purification system. On one side of the board, air is drawn in through a large fan and we use sodium hydroxide, a chemical that has the ability to absorb carbon dioxide, and clean air is then let out the other side,” explained Dhruv to Bangalore Mirror.
Pitching their idea with a 4×3 feet prototype, the team went to become one of the winners of Manipal Innovation Challenge and will soon receive funded to develop a fully functional scaled prototype.
The best part about the innovation is the inventive way the purifier takes care of the trapped carbon dioxide, which is pressurized and made into pellets. These pellets would eventually find their way to greenhouses that use carbon dioxide.
Dhruv also shed light that a lot of mechanical engineering and thermodynamics went behind the innovation, as they had to develop a leak-proof mechanism that made sure that no amount of sodium hydroxide gets out.
“I had come across an article from Japan where the bus stops double up as air purifiers. I am from Delhi, and there is no doubt that the metros are getting extremely polluted. The pollution might not be visible, but there is so much of carbon dioxide in the air. After a brainstorming session, we designed the final prototype,” he added.
While instating the contraption on a regular 15×21 feet billboard would cost around ₹10 lakh, Dhruv explained that the air purifier can be customised to fit billboards of varying sizes and is a modular product. The green board will be functioning with the help of inbuilt solar panels.
With ambient air pollution levels being on a meteoric rise in the country, the amazing innovation by youngsters like Dhruv and his friends stands out as hope that things can still be salvaged before it is too late.