Spotlight: Chakr Innovation

Capturing Pollution, One Genset at a Time!

*Please note that the profile does not indicate endorsement of the products.* 

Chakr Innovation is a team of skilled engineers and innovators who believe that to improve the quality of life on earth, we need to improve the quality of its air. What better place to start than India – home to 10 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world. Our product Chakr Shield is an innovative emission control device that captures pollution at source and converts it into something useful!

A short Q&A with the team:

Who came up with this idea and how?

Chakr Innovation is a company founded by engineering graduates from IIT
Delhi that aims to develop sustainable and environment friendly solutions for power

Mr. Arpit Dhupar, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, and Mr. Kushagra Srivastava, co-founder and CEO at Chakr Innovation, an enterprise which aims to solve the problem of air pollution through new technology with the Chakr Shield devise, verified by Indian Institute of Technology and accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories. Arpit Dhupar is one of two Young Champions of the Earth for Asia and the Pacific.

In an interview with UN, Arpit Dhupar said, “ One hot day, I was drinking sugar cane juice from a vendor by the side of the road. Such vendors are common in Delhi and they use diesel engines to power their sugar cane crushers. I watched as the vendor attached a pipe to the engine exhaust, and as he worked, the wall behind him started to turn black. It occurred to me: why not intentionally capture the pollutants to paint walls – and paper– instead? Globally, 90 percent of black carbon emissions from the transport sector are from diesel vehicles. Living in the city of Delhi, it became more apparent to me every day how dangerous air pollution is. Since my childhood I have been fascinated by science, and as an engineer, I believe it is my responsibility to give back to society: to help solve global problems. I was shocked to learn that 90 percent of air pollution-related deaths happen in low and middle-income Asian and African countries. The vision of the sugar cane vendor stuck with me, and while the sources of air pollution are scattered, it’s clear that all diesel generators are a major cause for concern. “

Where is the technology currently being used?

Our product deals with the problem of unrestrained emissions from diesel engine
generators. Among these emissions, particulate matter (carbonaceous Nano-sized matter) pose tremendous risk to public health due to its carcinogenic nature. It is a matter of great concern for the world and India in particular, where air pollution is the fourth largest cause of deaths. We capture the particulate matter using our device, largely cleaning the air and providing clean air to lakhs of individuals.

Chakr Shield is a device, which can be retrofitted on diesel generators and can capture up to 90% of particulate matter emission. Created using a novel solution-based method, it is a one of its kind device, which controls pollution without causing any adverse impact on the engine’s performance or the environment. Chakr Shield is able to capture particulate carbon itself without significant back-pressure.

Currently, Chakr Shield has been installed in 60+ companies in different sectors including oil and gas PSUs, manufacturing industries, telecom towers and commercial and educational buildings.

If we consider the scale of the air quality issue in India, how relevant is this technology? Where can it be useful?

Ambient air pollution is a leading cause of death, with an estimated 3 million deaths
per year and 88% of those deaths were in low and middle income countries (WHO, 2015). Emissions due to combustion of fossil fuels consists of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), which are known to cause lung cancer, COPD, ischemic heart disease and stroke (Jonathan O. Anderson). The situation is worse in India with 22 Indian cities making it to the list of top 30 most polluted cities of the world for PM2.5 ambient air pollution. Moreover, PM emissions contribute extensively to radiative forcing due to absorption of radiation and by settling on the glacial ice caps and reducing the albedo. PM also has indirect effect by changing cloud formation patterns and contribute heavily to climate change. The carbon dioxide equivalent of PM is ~460, which means that PM has ~460 times the adverse impact as compared to that of carbon dioxide (Myhre & Shindell). While the sources of air pollution are scattered, it is clear the diesel exhaust are a major contributor to PM10 and PM2.5 emissions. Moreover, the particulate matter released from diesel exhaust has been classified as a Class I carcinogen by IARC (WHO).

What has been the company’s biggest challenge so far?

No impact comes without facing and overcoming challenges. One of the major
challenges we face, being a hardware based start-up, is that we required capital investment for production as well as R&D. However, going forward, as our technology scales, this will no longer be a concern. The second challenge we faced was good talent acquisition – but now we can say that we have been fortunate to build a strong and motivated team with diverse backgrounds.

One of the challenges we are facing is to align our efforts with policy. Presently, policies for diesel generators are not strict enough due to lack of Emission Control Technologies in the market. To create a large-scale impact on the air quality, there is an urgent need for policy drivers and regular compliance checks by the government. The technology we have developed can enable the government to implement these standards and thus solve a part of the problem of ambient air pollution.

As a start-up, what kind of talent have you hired so far, and what are the prospects looking ahead?

Our team consists of 50 employees. We are a team of IITians who are trying to curb the problem of air pollution with a team of talented individuals. From technical to business development, we are proud to build up a team of hard working individuals.

Where does the company go next?

As we aim to create pioneering, sustainable, inclusive and scalable technologies to
combat the grave threat posed by pollution, we plan to combat the perils of air pollution as follows.

Near – term plan
Current Application: As we see traction from the industrial clients, we plan to
expand the market footprint of our current devices across NCR and other heavily
polluted cities in India.
New Application: We are also working on application of the device for small scale
industries which use furnace. The device can be deployed on their chimney
controlling the air pollution. We plan to commercialize this application over the
next 3-4 months. We have also collaborated with IOCL for technology
development. They have given us a grant of 2.5 Cr for product Proof of Concept
over the next two years. We are working with them towards developing a device
for small boilers and plan to scale up to large boilers within the plant.

Long-term plan
Over the next few years, we plan to continue research and
development in the air pollution space exploring pollutants like NOx, SOx as well as
sources of pollution like commercial vehicles and thermal power plants.

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