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Government to set up air pollution mitigation technology in Delhi

The Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences and Environment, Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurated a new air pollution control device. The device is a Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit (WAYU) that will be set up at traffic junctions at the ITO intersection and Mukarba Chowk in the country’s capital.

The ITO intersection is one of the busiest intersections in Delhi and forms a gateway for traffic from trans-Yamuna areas. This intersection is an integration of two junctions located on either side of the railway track. Over 3,00,000 vehicles use this intersection on a normal working day.

A press statement released by the Ministry said that the wind augmentation unit was a collaborative project developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI). This initiative is a part of the Technology Development Project that is funded by the Department of Science and Technology.

According to the Government, one of the key objectives of the Technology Development Project is to promote the use and development of technology in various fields. The Department supports technology development projects that include materials, devices and processes.

The programme supports activities aimed at developing technologies both in the advanced and emerging areas and in traditional sectors. Under the Programme, the feasibility of ideas and concepts is also assessed for their potential conversion to useful technology.

The WAYU prototype device has been indigenously developed and has the capacity to purify air for an area of about 500 square metres around it. The device consumes only about half a unit of electricity for 10 hours of run-time. The unit has a monthly maintenance cost of only IN ₹1500 (approximately US $20.7).

Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the Ministry is in the process of developing a bigger version of the WAYU that will be able to purify air for about 10,000 square metres around it.  He added that the upgraded version of the device will also have better aesthetics and will be deployed at bus shelters. It will be able to treat other atmospheric pollutants including nitrous and sulphur oxides.

The release said that the device uses technology for two functions- wind generation for the dilution of air pollutants and active pollutant removal. The device has filters for particulate matter removal, activated carbon (charcoal) and two ultraviolet lamps to filter out poisonous gases like VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

In the first stage, a fan sucks air around the device and pollutants such as dust and particulate matter are removed using filters.

The NEERI Director, Dr Rakesh Kumar said that the filters are made of non-woven fabric, and their removal efficiency for particulate matter is about 80%-90% and 40%-50% for poisonous gases.

The air is then led into a chamber where carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are oxidised into less harmful carbon dioxide using activated carbon coated with titanium dioxide. The oxidation is supported by the two ultraviolet lamps. The purified air is released with force into the atmosphere.

By 15 October, the Ministry plans to set up 54 more Wind Augmentation Purifying Units at various traffic intersections across Delhi.

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