Cleaning the air

Cleaning the air

Innovation can solve a whole lot of problems, including environmental concerns, which need our immediate attention. According to a recent report, Antarctica recorded  its highest temperature 18.3 Centigrade. Global warming has set alarm bells ringing everywhere, and the situation is getting grimmer by the day. Climate strikes and other movements are mobilising people across the globe but more needs to done urgently to avoid a catastrophe.
Student researchers from Lovely Professional University (LPU), Jalandhar, and IISER, Mohali, have jointly developed an algae-based room air purifier that will not only neutralise 98 per cent of the harmful gases and particulate matter in the air but will also increase the amount of oxygen making indoors more breathable. The research was conducted by Anant Kumar Rajput and Deepak Deb, both BTech, third year students at LPU, and Ravneet Yadav, PhD scholar from IISER. They were guided by Division of Startup, LPU, and Dr Sunila A Patil, assistant professor, IISER.

The powerful air purifier applies a completely new technology than what is used by the existing air purifiers in the market. Most air purifiers work on the same or similar principle, that is, filtering out the pollutants through HEPA and carbon filters. But these students came up with an alternative technology to control the problem of air pollution. 

Deb tells us more about their algae air purifier.  

The inspiration
“Air quality in Delhi is worsening day by day, and what better inspiration than this?,” says Deb adding that this alarming situation has seen the government taking certain steps like providing better green cover, curbing air pollution by introducing electric trains, and initiating other measures.

Talking about how they came up with the designing of the device, Deb says that the team drew inspiration from ongoing space research to produce oxygen in space through algae. A working prototype of the product has already been developed and successful trials have been conducted. 

How it works
When asked how the purifier works, Deb points out that the microbes in algae conduct photosynthesis. “Sunshine, water and carbon dioxide promote the healthy growth of algae, and when they undergo photosynthesis, they produce oxygen,” he says. 

Unlike conventional purifiers that are available in the market, this device uses an in-built container that is filled with marine algae. 

“This process decontaminates indoor air. It effectively removes toxic industrial gases like nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and even carbon monoxide and infuses good oxygen content into the filtered air,” says Deb, adding that this algae-based air purifier neutralises 98 per cent of harmful gases and promotes oxygen content in the air. He points out that this air purifier produces biomass as a byproduct, and it is a known fact that biomass can be used further. 
Smart solutions
The 21st century has its own set of problems, and we need to find smart solutions. “New age problems need new age solutions,” says Deb, who strongly believes that they are solving a niche problem that needed a solution long ago. Nevertheless it is never late to try. 

“The capital of the country is choking, and the air quality in other states too is not that great. A collective approach towards solving air pollution is extremely crucial at this stage,” he adds.  

What’s in store
Deb points out that they are now in the process of launching the product in the market and making it available for people to buy. He says that as of now they are focusing only on the algae air purifier. They have filed for the patent and are now in discussion with industry experts for its commercialisation. 

The product, OX- C and its higher version OX- C 2.0 are expected to be commercialised by September 2020 and will cost around Rs 18,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively.

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