Incubated at IIT-Madras, AirOK has developed Vistar 550, a smart air purifier that uses patent-pending technology and has found application in the healthcare, real estate, hospitality, and IT sectors
Air pollution is a silent killer claiming one percent of the world’s population every year. A report by The Lancet Commission ranked India – with 2.51 million deaths – number 1 in pollution-related deaths, in 2015. And it isn’t just the national capital where the situation is alarming. Of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, six are in India
Enter AirOK, an IIT-Madras incubated startup that has launched an indigenously developed smart air purifier, Vistar 550. Launched by three former IIT-Madras students – Deekshit Vara Prasad, Yasa Pavan Reddy and Vanam Sravan Krishna – the startup manufactures air purifiers that use a patent-pending technology to filter out major pollutants and gaseous substances.
The case for AirOK purifiers
AirOK launched Vistar 550, a smart air purifier for the B2B segment, in July 2018. Using efficient granular absorbent particulate arrester (EGAPA), the purifier can filter out particulate matter, microbes, fungus, and gaseous substances (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide). The founders claim this is the only purifier at present capable of filtering this combination of pollutants.
Vistar 550 covers an area of 550 square feet, but AirOK also provides customised solutions for larger spaces. Vistar has a clean air delivery rate (CADR) of 480 m3 per hour, which is 10 percent more than the air purifiers available in the market. The filter can last for one year as opposed to commercial purifiers where HEPA filters have to be replaced twice a year.
A pilot test of this purifier was done at Child Trust Hospital in Nungambakkam. “It was very efficient in removing air-borne bacteria in the paediatric intensive care unit,” the hospital confirmed. After testing the product with Shriram Institute for Industrial Research, Bengaluru, the product was ready for launch. Just before launch, AirOK was approached by Doordarshan Kendra, Chennai, to help tackle pollution in the server room. Now, AirOK’s air purifier has repeat orders from Doordarshan.
We have sold 120 units till now,” Deekshit says. Vistar 550 is also available online.
“We are also testing the air purifier with an automaker,” he says. Cars manufactured by the automaker will have an air purifier integrated into them. AirOK, which is focusing on cleaning up the air quality in kitchens, is also eyeing large public spaces where the ambient atmosphere is polluted.
“Our hotspot is Delhi,” says Pavan, who also heads AirOK’s marketing efforts. The response has been tremendous in the many expos and events that AirOK has participated in Delhi. Post-launch, sales are brisk in Delhi as well. The SAR group, which invests in clean technology and offers the Livpure brand, invested $2 million (Rs 12 crore) in AirOK in November 2017
A home-grown startup
The Environmental Engineering Department at IIT-Madras was the ideation ground for the three founders. The trio was working on different projects, all related to air pollution. “When looking at solutions for air pollution control technologies, we wanted to develop one technology to counter all pollutants,” Deekshit says.
Sravan’s master’s project was developed into a prototype, which was approved by the IIT-Madras Incubation Cell for development as a product.
The founders developed three prototypes in 18 months and the IIT-Madras incubation cell invested Rs 5 lakh as seed fund and assessed the progress made. When the trio was able to develop a prototype using the seed money, the incubation cell helped the startup get a loan of Rs 30 lakh at a low rate of interest from the IIT-M Alumni Fund. Deekshit, Pavan and Sravan developed commercial prototypes using that money. “Fabrication of the design was the biggest challenge,” Deekshit says.
The market and future