Arpit Dhupar is a mechanical engineering graduate and holds a master’s degree in design of machine elements from IIT Delhi. He is passionate about developing technologies that can have a meaningful impact on society and preserve the environment.
Arpit Dhupar has worked on many innovative projects such as Urea Deep Placement Powered Applicator which reduces urea consumption by 40% and increases productivity by 25%, a novel solvent-based technology called ‘Chakr Shield’ that transforms carbon into non-toxic ink pigment, etc.
To know more about his inspiring work, Mad4India interviewed Arpit Dhupar.
Q- So Arpit, Please tell us something more about your background?
After completing my graduation in 2014, my first project was building an off-road vehicle that can serve as an ambulance in situations of disaster like earthquakes. My other project was building a hybrid two-seater vehicle that could be powered by human power that is pedaling and electric power.
Q- After engineering, people usually take up glossy jobs, what motivated you to work on R&D projects that address environmental concerns?
My inclination has always been towards serving the society. I feel deep down that we belong to the fortunate 1% who got the opportunity to be a part of mainstream education plus having the capability to afford it. I felt I have to give it back to the society in form of utilizing the education that I acquired in solving real-world problems. This thought got more deeply rooted when I started traveling as I realized the life I lead is a dream for many.
Q- Your current product which focuses on curbing the air pollution, can you please tell us what gave birth to the idea?
In 2019, I started with the vision to move towards the new sustainable age and worked on tackling every problem that deals with combustion as a process. Our focus shifted to eliminating the most vestigial form of burning which is crop stubble waste burning that creates a lot of pollution during the months of October in Delhi.
Q- So when you approach farmers to collect the waste stubble, how do you explain them about the company and what is their reaction?
I started traveling to the villages of Punjab and Haryana to talk to the villagers and tried to understand the reason behind burning the crop stubble waste. I was amazed to understand that they really don’t want to burn the waste loaded with pesticides it will also hit their home with the smog and the toxic combination. They are also aware that burning also depletes the organic pests that are beneficial for the ecosystem of the soil. The biggest problem was that they didn’t have time between harvest of rice and sowing of wheat which made burning the easiest possible solution to get rid of the waste stubble.
Q- What is the process involved in building the packaging material at Dharaksha Ecosolutions?
We use the process of biofabrication which utilizes biology to manufacture items. After cleaning the procured stubble waste, the lab-created culture is added which starts eating the material as its food, starts growing on it, and binds the stubble waste together. On oven drying after taking out the mold, the culture gets neutralized and we get end packaging products.
Q- Can you tell us about the team currently working in the startup?
We have a super amazing team of 13 people who really care about the vision of the startup. We have Sharad as our chief scientist who we call ‘mushroom whisperer’ as he can talk to cultures and speak in the language of culture. We have microbiologist Priya who is deeply engrossed in the work. We have Raunak on production and contribute to the future of packaging.
Q- Could you please share with us the time and amount spent on building of this idea into a product?
We partnered with the Regional Centre for Biology and after research of almost 2 years, we had a product looks like thermocol but is completely organic and biodegradable. If dumped in the garden, it can convert into compost in 60 days.
Q- Are there any revenues being from this product yet?
Not yet. We are currently at lab scale and in the process of building our manufacturing unit. With this being said, we might be able to generate revenues by February or March.
Q- What are the challenges that you are facing right now with the product, internally or in the market?
Biotechnology is a very complicated field and the process that we use is very challenging. This process requires you perfect every time and it is a very capital extensive project. The entire production plant cannot have a single germ and this requires huge capital investment to maintain the hygiene standards. Raising funds was another challenge as investors are not fully confident in investing in a startup that deals with real-world application manufacturing.
Q- Where do you see your current project Dharaksha Ecosolutions in next five years?
We are trying to make wood out of this same material. We are looking towards building furniture from the crop stubble waste. This will prevent crop stubble waste burning and deforestation also. Since the furniture built will lock the CO2 for the next 25 years; this would be the biggest carbon sequestration anywhere in the world.
Q- You are the UN young champion of earth and also got featured in Forbes 30 under 30, what was your experience when you got the recognition for the amazing work that you have done?
It feels really amazing and rewarding; it pumps up your confidence. I take it as the byproduct of the hustle that I do. These things are never the end objective or the motivation. I get kick or adrenaline rush when I get such acknowledgment but I feel much happier when my interventions have an impact in the real world.
Q- So, you have been working on multiple projects, would you talk about your learnings from the past failed projects?
My line of work is failing every day and has success once in a while. It took us 2 years to build the product at Dharaksha which came with its own set of failures in production or commercialization. We have come to a point that these everyday failures do not intimidate us and do not affect the overall running. Every failure was instrumental in building the company. I accept my failures with the same passion that I accept my awards with.
Q- Being an environmental leader, you are inspiration for many; do you have any message for the young graduates who are working on projects which can have a meaningful impact on society?
I feel disconnected from the generation that is coming out of college. I see less empathy and a lot more overconfidence. I learned from my experience that patience is the key to be successful and I see patience is lacking majorly. I find the temperament to learn missing. If you want to do something meaningful, perseverance takes you a long way.
If you liked this story, read about Ecomitram: providing alternative solutions to the non-renewable sources of energy