Published: 15th September 2021
This Coimbatore start-up's air purifier can be mounted on your head like a face shield. Check it out
We speak to Mukund Rajukumar, founder of Aerion Labs in Coimbatore, about how he plans to change India's air purification game, one device at a time
Air pollution continues to be a major problem in India. In 2020, India was ranked the third-worst in the world in terms of air quality and according to recent study by The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), states that life expectancy of Indians can reduce by nine years due to air pollution. But what if Indians had access to a personalised air purifier whenever they stepped out of their homes? This is exactly what Coimbatore-headquartered Aerion Labs has developed.
Speaking about how it works, Aerion's founder Mukund Rajukumar says, "We wanted to make it affordable to the common Indian and therefore, we haven't used expensive filters like HEPA that is conventionally used in air purifiers. Instead, have used the electrostatic precipitation technology, which is recyclable and doesn't have heavy operation costs." Besides Mukund, who is based out of San Francisco, the entire team is in Coimbatore and Dindigul. "We are manufacturing and assembling the products there," Mukund adds. They will be going into trial production soon.
Mukund says that the technology that they have used isn't new. "It has been used in cement factories for decades. Our innovation has been to miniaturise it into a head-mounted device. The device has a dust collection panel that can be taken out and cleaned," says Mukund. The polluted air is sucked in through a fan on the right side of the device. The air passes through various cartridges and the clean air is redirected to the wearer's nose. "The entire process happens in the enclosure that's located on the forehead. The rest of the device is a transparent visor," says Mukund.
To ensure that the users feel comfortable, Mukund and his team are experimenting with various strapping methods. "It is already lightweight and has a low battery capacity. We are striving to reduce the weight further," says Mukund. But this is just the basic version. Aerion is also developing a version that's specifically targeted at children who are going back to school. "It's a much lighter version where a mask can be placed inside a filter chamber mounted on the forehead. The air gets filtered through the mask and the students don't have to struggle to breathe while actually wearing it all the time while at school," explains Mukund.
Another version, a helmet-mounted device that will integrate the air purifier is also in the works. "We are reaching out to two-wheeler Electric Vehicles (EV) manufacturers to partner with them for bringing out this variant," says Mukund. "Ideally, we would like it to be part of a bundle that can be purchased along with the e-bike," he adds. Aerion Labs has been bootstrapped for the most part ever since its inception two years ago. It is only recently that the start-up received a seed funding of $100K, which has helped it to go into trial production.