A device that attempts to plug pollution at source

Dell partners with a startup that has created a device to convert particulate matter from diesel gensets into ink

Updated - July 17, 2018 12:06 pm IST

Published - July 16, 2018 04:29 pm IST

Deadly carbon emissions need to be challenged with not just activism, but also innovation. Chakr Shield is a device that plugs pollution at source. It converts particulate matter emitted from diesel generators into non-toxic ink that can be used for sketching, textile and paper printing. While it was developed last year by Delhi-based startup Chakr Innovation, a hardware company working towards creating a sustainable environment, it is now getting into significant partnerships.

In Bengaluru, the technology giant Dell announced its partnership with Chakr Innovation, with an interesting line-up of events. Tahera Peeran showcased her khadi collection, hand-painted with POINK (Pollution into Ink), while artist N Ponnappa did a live cartooning session. “We have been using Chakr Shield since December 2017, and Dell has shipped 1,50,000 boxes with labels and packaging using POINK. It aligns with our philosophy of using technology for the benefit of society and giving back to nature,” said Rajeev Kapoor, India Vice President, Dell.

Chakr Shield is a retrofit which can be added to any diesel genset with a capacity ranging from 15 kVA to 2,000 kVA. It captures over 90% of the particulate matter emissions at source, with no impact on the genset. This is soot, or carbon black, which then goes through several processes, where carcinogens and heavy metals are removed. The result is a purified carbon-based pigment that is further processed into ink.

Arpit Dhupar, Kushagra Srivastava and Prateek Sachan, engineers from IIT Delhi, founded the company in 2016, and created Chakr Shield the same year. Currently at work in Dell India’s manufacturing units across India, Dell now intends to use it at all their units across the globe.

The company has been awarded for its innovation by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and FICCI, and has received a grant from Indian Oil for new technology development.

“We haven’t commercialised POINK yet, but have been partnering with companies. As of now, Dell consumes 600-800 litres of ink per month. It’s not possible to scale up the production without tie-ups, so we are exploring these with Mahindra, Infosys and Godrej. Tata group is already using our ink in their watches and jewellery,” says Akhilesh Ahirwal, DGM, Corporate Sales & Strategy, Chakr Innovation. The company is now moving on to capturing emissions from marine engines. Ponnappa, while drawing tongue-in-cheek representations of the harmful effects of diesel emissions, using POINK, said, “It can be diluted with water and the ink stays the same even after drying. It is as black as black can be.” He did wish it was sold commercially, so artists had access to it, or better still, be available in markers.

Dark days

A study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says levels of dangerous particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM10), rise by 30% to 100% in areas where diesel generators are operated. Last month, Gurugram recorded a significant increase in pollution levels, owing to the use of diesel gensets.

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