Roadside air purifiers failed to curb pollution in Capital, says Union Environment Ministry Secretary

NEERI developed WAYU to address air pollution at traffic intersections and dense traffic zones in the city.

NEERI developed WAYU to address air pollution at traffic intersections and dense traffic zones in the city.   | Photo Credit: SANDEEP_SAXENA

Environment Secretary says more experimenting needs to be done

Roadside air purifiers and those installed on the top of buses to combat pollution have failed, Union Environment Ministry Secretary C.K. Mishra said at a conference on Wednesday.

“Some measures have worked, some have not. The NEERI air purifiers on roadsides that were meant to suck polluted air have not worked; HEPA filters installed on top of buses have also not worked. However, we have to try different solutions and keep experimenting,” said Mr. Mishra.

He was the keynote speaker at a conference organised by The Energy Resources Institute. On Wednesday, the air quality in the city was in the ‘severe’ category.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a Nagpur-based laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), had developed WAYU to address air pollution at traffic intersections and dense traffic zones.

It comprises a fan that sucks in air and sieves out dust and particulate matter using three filters of varying sizes. The air then moves into another chamber where carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are oxidised into the less harmful carbon dioxide using activated carbon coated with titanium dioxide. The purified air is then released back into the atmosphere.

Prototypes of the device had been installed at the ITO Junction and Mukarba Chowk in north Delhi. Minister for Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan unveiled the prototypes last September. Developers of WAYU claimed that the devices could reduce PM10 values from 600 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) to 100 ug/m3; and PM2.5 values from 300 ug/m3 to 60 ug/m3 in 30 minutes.

NEERI director Rakesh Kumar said that WAYU was specifically made for traffic junctions and that follow-ups by his organisation showed that the devices were mostly working as intended, but tweaks were necessary. “It is designed to clear air in a 20-metre radius. Secondly, we have found that the size of the dust particles is bigger than expected. So, we may need to change the filters. Finally, of the 20-odd devices installed around the city. some were vandalised. We are improving the design and further tests are on,” he told The Hindu.

Along with WAYU, former Environment Minister Dr. Vardhan had, last December, also launched Pariyayantra. These were a fleet of 30 buses with air filter units mounted on the roof. “As the vehicle moves, air passes through the holes in front of the device. The filters inside the unit trap the pollutants. What comes out is clean air,” according to Manav Rachna University, from where a team had designed the filters. The Hindu could not immediately reach out to them for comment.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 3:21:37 AM |

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