Air pollution is one of the most serious problems in the world and is posing a major risk to our health and food security. It is estimated to cause about 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide and destroys enough crops that could feed millions of people every year.

More than 80 per cent of the world's population is found to be exposed to PM (Particulate matter) 2.5 concentrations exceeding WHO air quality guidelines and the health impacts resulting from these exposures are estimated to cause around 2-5 per cent of the global disease burden. 

India has the dubious distinction of being the third largest country contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases after China and the United States. Delhi, the second most populated city in the world with 25 million people, is also among the most polluted cities with reduced life expectancy by 6.3 years. Although various air quality monitoring technologies are available in the market and these technologies are costly and have lower efficacy.

Shoolini solution to air pollution: Researchers in the School of Biotechnology of Shoolini University is designing an economically viable air purification system using microalgae while also trying to maximize the efficacy of the biosystem. 

What is Microalgae?

Microalgae are sunlight-driven cell factories that convert carbon dioxide and other toxic compounds to potential biofuels, foods, feeds and high-value bioactive compounds; releasing approximately 71 per cent of the earth's oxygen in the process of photosynthesis. The potential applications of microalgae make them vital in the study of future air quality monitoring systems and bio-energy production.

The microalgae-based prototype thus developed can be used for improving the air quality at the household level and major polluted sites all around the world. The system will comprise of a culture tank filled with a standardized culture fluid including the algae, an air supply unit with gas pressure unit, gas pump and a sparger for forcing and proper distribution of polluted air into the culture fluid and a lighting unit for radiating light to the culture fluid. 

Read about Shoolini University

Photosynthesis of the algae is promoted to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen by radiating light in the presence of carbon dioxide as algae use carbon dioxide as a nutrient for their growth. As a result, the present system can efficiently purify the polluted air to generate fresh air, rich in oxygen.

The invention will provide a suitable prototype for removing toxic gases as well as other toxic pollutants present in the household polluted air. After standardization of microalgae-based method for the improvement of air quality at lab-scale, further pilot scale development of a prototype for household use will be done at commercial scale in collaboration with Microalgae Development Energy India (P) Ltd.

Names and designation of the Patent filers

A patent on the proposed air purification system has been co-filed by Pratibha Thakur, Keshav Kumar, Ishan Sharma, Parveen Chauhan, Kartik Chauhan, Pradeep Kumar, Sankhajit Pramanik, Brij Bhushan and Sourabh Kulshreshtha in February this year.

  • Prof Sourabh Kulshreshtha is the Dean of Research and Development,
  • Dr. Pradeep Kumar is a Post Doc-cum-Assistant Professor in the Department of Biotechnology
  • Mr Brij Bhushan is a teaching assistant in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Shoolini University.
  • Mr Sankhajit Pramanik is the Director of Micro Algae Development Energy, India
  • Pratibha Thakur and Keshav Kumar are project fellows from MADE as it is an industrially financed project. 

Among those who have filed the patent are three students pursuing their M.Tech in Biotechnology from Shoolini University - Ishan Sharma and Kartik Chauhan are in their first year while Parveen Chauhan is in the second year of his postgraduate programme at Shoolini.