16 December 2019 A circular economy from thin air

When Arpit Dhupar won the Young Champions of the Earth prize, he was in a bar with friends and didn’t believe the news.

When Arpit Dhupar won the Young Champions of the Earth prize, he was in a bar with friends and didn’t believe the news.

“Are you sure I have won?” He repeated. Finally convinced, he celebrated with his friends, who echoed, “Are you sure you’ve won?”

Yet 12 months later, Chakr Shield, Dhupar’s company, has gone from strength to strength. Now, their technology is pan-Indian, having expanded their production facility by a multiple of five.

To deal with the menace of air pollution in India, Chakr Shield retrofits a filter to diesel generators, capturing up to 90 per cent of particulate matter emissions from diesel generators.

And instead of just capturing it, Chakr Shield also converts the trapped soot into ink and paint, which not only provide a cleaner environment and air to breathe, but also a circular economy for the soot particles. 

The team has moved from a workshop into a factory, with a manufacturing process and quality control processes incorporating automated manufacturing and assembly lines.

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“This was a major part of our preparation for scaling up to meet the demand of equipment on a Pan-India level,” said Dhupar. “This facility can deliver 10 megawatts of power per month, per shift.”

Chakr Shield’s success has not gone unnoticed: the enterprise has won the Maharashtra State Innovation awards and the Andhra Pradesh Innovation Summit. 

Raising US$3.5 million to date, the enterprise is scaling its operations across multiple states across India, further ramping up production. The team has invested time in strategic partnerships and onboarding consultants to incorporate the company’s services into large corporate chains and government clients.

Reflecting on the Young Champions of the Earth prize and the recognition he has received since winning in September 2018, he said:

“One of the things I have valued most was the personality mapping during the training. It helped me understand where my strength lies, not only striving for what is expected of me. That has really helped me enhance my leadership skills, which in turn has helped the whole organization.”

“As entrepreneurs we often doubt ourselves, because the scale of the problems we’re dealing with are huge. But this training helped me to overcome being afraid of the scale. The recognition was also a huge boost to the overall credibility of our system. This is a very valuable award and I keep recommending people to apply.”

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Nathan Borgford-Parnell, expert at the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, said: “Air pollution is a global health crisis and we all have a common responsibility to combat it. But in communities, like those in India, which are suffering from crippling air pollution, it can often feel like the problem is too immense and the sources too numerous for individuals to be able to make an impact.

“That’s why the efforts of young champions like Arpit Dhupar are so important. Arpit’s brilliant technology not only reduces emissions of dangerous air pollutants but converts them into a medium that can be used to raise awareness, and catalyse even more action.”


Do you have what it takes to be a Young Champion of the Earth? Applications open in early 2020. Pressing submit makes you part of our changemaker community – get involved and be part of the conversation on environmental change.


The Young Champions of the Earth Prize, powered by Covestro, is UN Environment Programme’s leading initiative to engage youth in tackling the world's most pressing environmental challenges.

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