In October, the Centre-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) passed an order banning the use of diesel generator sets in the national capital as the rapidly declining air quality began reaching critical levels.
As per media reports, the ban on diesel generator sets was limited to Delhi, and not the other parts of the national capital region (NCR). Moreover, the ban was not extended to essential services like hospitals, Delhi Metro, and mobile towers, but limited to weddings, housing societies and malls.
However, similar to the firecracker ban, the city’s residents weren’t terribly excited by the prospect.
The reason? India’s power sector struggles to provide uninterrupted electricity, even in our major cities. Diesel generator sets often act as the preferred mode of power back-up, despite the regulations.
“Easy to install and operate, low space requirements and easy availability in the market make diesel generator set a preferred choice even when diesel is more expensive on a per-kilowatt-hour basis,” says this report from SHAKTI Sustainable Energy Foundation a non-profit.
However, the emissions from diesel generator sets (diesel fumes) are toxic. Toxins range from carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NOx), unburned hydrocarbons (HC), and particulate matter—all significant health hazards. Despite the presence of separate emission norms for petrol, diesel and kerosene generators issued by the Central Pollution Control Board, the implementation side of things remains very shoddy.
In response to this concern, a Delhi-based technology startup called Chakr Innovation has come up with a device that uses soot emitted from diesel generators to manufacture paint and ink.
Called the Chakr Shield, this invention could propel the necessary bottom-up battle against air pollution by reducing emissions from diesel generators—a machine used by millions of Indians.
Running across 35 different sites across different industries and institutions like FMCG, real estate, telecom, and universities, among others, in the national capital, these devices have managed to capture more than 300 kgs of particulate matter (responsible for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchitis) in the past year.
As per this YourStory article on the startup, this amount of particulate matter would have polluted 1,500 billion litres of air. Founded by three alumni from IIT-Delhi (all under the age of 25) last year, the startup has managed to raise over $1.5 million via equity funding and grants.
Another startup in the same clean technology space as Chakr Innovation is the Bangalore-based Graviky, whose device captures pollution from vehicles and converts it into inks and paints.