Clean Tech

How an AC technician in a Maharashtra town devised an indigenous solution

Combating air pollution has triggered the imagination of young minds to devise out-of-the-box solutions. Rizwan Shaikh from Bhusawal, a small town in Maharashtra, is one of them.

About seven years ago he ran an air conditioner repair outfit. While tinkering around in his workshop he realised that the widely used filter-based air purification technology had limitations. He decided to develop something better.

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His research led him to create a ‘filterless’ retrofit, which has several advantages over conventional purifiers where the filters become choked and stop working. Additionally, the filterless purifier reduces emissions by converting them into a residue, which is stored and easily removed. 

Armed with the new technology, Shaikh and two friends, Irfan Pathan and Shantanu Sonaikar, launched Pi Green Innovations, which has already been granted patents for its products in the US, UK, China, EU, and Singapore. The Indian patents are awaited.

Pi Green’s technology has found encouraging international recognition. At the Smogothan 2018, Poland, an event which showcased innovations to reduce pollution, the filterless technology was adjudged among the best. The company also partners the UNDP’s Clean Air programme in India.

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The start-up has launched the Carbon Cutter range, which reduces particulate matter emissions (PM 2.5/10) at source from vehicles and diesel gensets. Pathan, the company’s CEO, explains how these function. In automobiles, the plug-in installation is suitable for all vehicles and cuts nearly 90 per cent of PM 2.5 and PM 10 at source by capturing and storing them in powder form. The powder finds use as raw material for manufacturing paint and ink, adding to the circularity of the product.

The second product is a retrofit for gensets. It is fully automatic with a self-cleaning mechanism and eliminates hazardous pollutants from the intake, converts them into a recyclable powder and releases cleaner air.

Pi Green’s RepAir range of ambient air purifier also uses ‘filterless’ technology for industrial applications. The product sucks in the surrounding air and removes particulate matter, dust, smog and smoke before releasing the cleaned air. It can work in semi-closed spaces like bus stands, metro stations or in smelter plants and jaggery processing units. Sonaikar, the company’s director (strategy and investments), says the pilot project at a jaggery unit near Pune fetched good results. Pilots are on in Bengaluru on two government-owned heavy vehicles and at a crematorium.

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Pi Green started commercial sales last year. With funding from individuals and Opus Consulting, it hopes to be the slow and steady one that wins the race.

Published on May 15, 2022