This article is part of a deep dive to celebrate Environment Day by highlighting individual and community action that leads to large scale impact on the planet. ItStartsWithMe is the second chapter of ‘Shaping Sustainability’, an exclusive series by The Better India, to give our readers an in-depth understanding of how Indians are making sustainability a priority in all walks of life. Find more stories from the series here
While we rub our irritated eyes for the thousandth time and wonder if India’s deadly air pollution will ever get better, three friends in India have come up with a life-changing solution that has already won them several accolades across the world.
Rizwan Shaikh from Maharashtra’s Bhusawal town was working as an AC technician when he realised that filters were old technology. The manual cleaning of filters choked with dust was cumbersome and replacing filters every few months was a hassle.
He did some research and invented a ‘filterless’ technology that converts particulate matter into residue which can be easily removed from the device.
This technology is now patented in the US, UK, China, EU, and Singapore, and awaiting a patent in India.
Sustainable solutions to clean polluted air
With his two friends Shantanu Sonaikar and Irfan Pathan, Shaikh launched PI Green Innovations, a cleantech startup that developed two remarkable products to change how we clean our air – Carbon Cutter, and RepAir.
Carbon Cutter is a device that can be plugged into the exhaust of automobiles and generator sets to collect and convert the particulate matter it emits into soot. This soot is then used to make ink, paint and many other useful items. By capturing the particulate matter, the Carbon Cutter reduces toxic emissions into the air by over 90%.
“The Carbon Cutter was commercialised in 2020, and is now available to purchase in markets everywhere,” Shantanu Sonaikar told The Better India, adding, “More than 150 Carbon Cutters have already been installed in diesel generators in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.”
RepAir, the other invention, is an ambient air purifier that can be installed in highly-frequented public spaces such as metro and train stations, bus stops, parks and more. It takes in the surrounding air, filters it to collect soot, and throws out 80% cleaner air.
Working with the Indian government
“The RepAir purifiers were piloted with Delhi’s AAP government in 2018, and work on commercialising it and setting it up across cities is planned to begin in the next financial year,” Sonaikar said.
“In the meantime, we are focussing on solutions for industrial-grade emissions in partnership with state governments. At the moment we are working on a pilot treatment solution for one of the crematoriums in Bangalore,” he added.
PI Green Innovations is also in discussions with relevant authorities in Delhi, Karnataka, and Maharashtra to identify other sources of air pollution and provide technology that is compliant with government norms to counter these.
The company raised over $4.5 million in Series A funding in October last year and is planning on using the funds to expand its manufacturing facilities in India and take its inventions to international markets in Southeast Asia.
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