As the pre-monsoon summer heat takes hold in New Delhi, two things are as inevitable as the 40?C days: power cuts and air pollution from the diesel generators that then kick in.
However, a team of Indian engineers has figured out away to bring some good from choking generator exhaust: They are capturing it and turning it into ink.
“The alarming thing about diesel generators is they are located in the heart of densely populated areas. It’s spitting smoke right there,” said Kushagra Srivastava, one of the three engineers who developed the technology, now installed in Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi, and in the southern city of Chennai.
The idea, Srivastava said, came about when he and his cofounders stopped at a sugarcane juice stall on a hot day.
They noticed a wall that had turned black behind the stand’s diesel generator, where exhaust emerged from a pipe.
They wondered if diesel exhaust might be used to produce paint — and set out to try.
The device they came up with, which attaches to generators, captures 90 percent of the soot particles from cooled diesel exhaust.
The material can then be sold to ink manufacturers.
Their company, Chakr Innovation, has so far installed 50 of the devices for government firms such as Indian Oil, real-estate developers and other state government offices, earning more than 11 million rupees (US$200,000) in revenue in the first year, Srivastava said.
The company has plans to install another 50 devices over the coming year, he said.
It has so far sold 500kg of collected soot, which has been used to create 20,000 liters of ink, he added.
Chakr Innovations is not the first start-up to see cash in diesel exhaust.
A competitor called Graviky Labs, based in Bengaluru, is using similar technology to turn diesel exhaust from vehicles into ink.
Srivastava and his fellow inventors Arpit Dhupar and Prateek Sachan see themselves as part of a movement toward cleaner air and energy in a nation where major cities struggle with choking air.
About 1.1 million people a year die from the impacts of air pollution in India, according to a 2015 survey by the US-based Health Effects Institute.
That is about a quarter of the total number of air pollution deaths worldwide, it said.
In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe limit, the survey noted.
Srivastava and Dhupar grew up in New Delhi, which the WHO in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world.
Sachan comes from Allahabad, the third most polluted city in WHO’s 2016 rankings.
“Earlier, I remember there were a lot less cars on the road, there was a lot less congestion and a lot more greenery,” said Dhupar, Chakr’s chief technology officer.
However, as trees were felled and roads widened to accommodate more cars, Dhupar — then in high school — developed chronic respiratory problems.
Doctors put him on medication and warned him to stop playing sports.
“My problem is, whenever I start to run out of air, the anxiety levels shoot up,” he said.
Dhupar said many of his family and friends have also developed long-term respiratory issues.
Diesel exhaust contributed to just 2 percent of all air pollution deaths in India in 2015, according to the Health Effects Institute, but in “confined spaces” in urban areas, where many generators are used, it represents a larger risk, said Pankaj Sadavarte, one of the report’s researchers.
India has in place policies to monitor and restrict air pollution, but they can be difficult to enforce, experts say.
However, worries about air pollution are growing.
In November last year, the capital launched its first air quality emergency action plan during a particularly hazardous week when pollution spiked.
The government halted construction within the city, raised parking fees to discourage driving and shut schools to keep children indoors.
The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is drafting a national policy to clean the nation’s air, though its release has been delayed, said Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India.
“The air pollution debate and health debate is picking up in India,” Dahiya said in a telephone interview. “That momentum is forcing policymakers to make our cities more livable.”
RALLYING A DEFENSE: Former envoys wrote an op-ed piece defending Anna Lindstedt, who was removed for attempting to free Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai in China Sweden’s former ambassador to Beijing goes on trial in Stockholm on Friday for allegedly overstepping her mandate by trying to negotiate the release of a Chinese-Swedish dissident held in China. Anna Lindstedt is accused of brokering an unauthorized meeting during her time as ambassador to free publisher Gui Minhai (桂民海). Lindstedt — a veteran envoy who had previously represented Sweden in both Vietnam and Mexico, and acted as Sweden’s chief negotiator at the 2015 climate summit in Paris — has denied the charges. Gui, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders out of a Hong Kong book
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
‘LEAST WE CAN DO’: The gesture was made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality that targeted minorities They are images that surprised and moved Americans: police officers taking a knee alongside protesters in the most widespread civil unrest to rock the US in decades — and in doing so embracing an anti-racism gesture denounced by US President Donald Trump. As Trump pushes for a crackdown on often-violent protests over the death of George Floyd, police officers from New York to Los Angeles to Houston, Texas, are making gestures of solidarity with demonstrators incensed at the latest case of an unarmed black man dying while in police custody. “I took off the helmet and laid the batons down. Where do
From boiled catfish soup to spicy fried frog, an eight-year-old in pyjamas and a chef’s hat is delighting Myanmar with her culinary prowess in a nation still being told to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moe Myint May Thu’s mother posted a video online at the end of April showing off her daughter’s skills as the youngster threw together some spicy fried prawns. With her wide, gap-toothed grin, the video has bounced across social media and brought stardom to the child along with an online moniker: “Little Chef.” She now sells dishes to order and is counting the dividends. “I just