To Fight Deadly Air Pollution, Indian Inventors Turn Diesel Soot Into Ink
India's struggles with air pollution are well-known. Just last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report showing that two of the world's most polluted megacities—Delhi and Mumbai—are in India.
But a team of engineers have analyzed the problem and found a way to be part of the solution.
Their company, Chakr Innovation, now sells a device that captures 90 percent of the soot particles from diesel generators and sells them to manufacturers to make ink, Reuters reported May 2. It is the first ever device to capture emissions specifically from diesel generators, the company website claims.
For the three engineers who developed the device, Kushagra Srivastava, Arpit Dhupar and Prateek Sachan, fighting air pollution was a central goal of their project, and not just a happy byproduct of the profit motive.
"Chakr Innovation aims to create pioneering, sustainable and scalable technologies to combat the grave threat posed by pollution. Our mission is to develop and implement innovative solutions which can effectively control pollution—saving the natural environment and protecting people's health, " the company's mission statement reads.
Srivastava and Dhupar have first-hand experience with air pollution, having both grown up in Delhi. Dhupar told Reuters he has suffered from chronic respiratory problems since high school and has friends and family members who also suffer from respiratory ailments.
"My problem is, whenever I start to run out of air, the anxiety levels shoot up," he told Reuters.
Diesel generators are a particular health threat because they are used in major cities like Delhi when the power grid fails due to summer heatwaves.
"The alarming thing about diesel generators is they are located in the heart of densely populated areas. It's spitting smoke right there," Srivastava told Reuters.
Reuters pointed to a 2015 Health Effects Institute study that said air pollution killed 1.1 million people a year in India and that two percent of those deaths were due to diesel exhaust.
Chakr Innovation has now installed 50 devices in Chennai and the Delhi satellite city of Gurgaon and plans to install 50 more over the coming year. It has worked so far with government offices and firms, as well as real estate developers.
Srivastava, Dhupar and Sachan aren't the only Indian inventors to try and use their skills to tackle their country's air pollution woes. Inventing prodigy Angad Daryani is working on a tower that would filter pollutants from urban air.Reuters also cited the Bangalore-based Graviky Labs that obtains ink from diesel car exhaust. According to their website, they have cleaned 1.6 trillion liters (approximately 0.42 trillion gallons) of air since 2013.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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