Almost every working professional has finished the work day at least once with a splitting headache due to the stale air in the office. Since natural ventilation is blocked in big office complexes, we rely on air-conditioning units to circulate air. Sadly, it is is the stale air that is circulated again and again, leading not just to low levels of oxygen but also a build-up of micro-organisms. (Remember the flu that was going around the office! Your office air could be the reason!). Additionally, in closed spaces, furniture and painted surfaces can emit toxic fumes, which accumulate without adequate ventilation, causing respiratory health problems.
A study done by the Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA), a Delhi-based research organisation, in 13 buildings across Delhi, including corporate offices, a multiplex, government buildings and residences, in 2018 found that the concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) inside corporate offices and hospitals was nearly two times higher than the safe limits prescribed by the World Health Organisation. The IPCA study found that another pollutant, known as bio-aerosol, was at least 20 times higher in corporate offices and four times higher in multiplexes than permissible limits.
Now, a Gurugram-based startup, Magneto Cleantech, has come up with air purification products that integrate with existing air conditioning equipment to provide clean air in office complexes, hotels and other large closed spaces. Based on a patent pending magnetic, filterless technology, the devices provide central air cleaning for large spaces removing particulate matter (PM 2.5), VOCs and infectious microbes from the air. The best part: These devices do not require any recurring filter replacement costs and can simply be washed.
Says Himanshu Agarwal, CEO and founder, Magneto Cleantech: “The products have energy saving benefits due to a very low pressure drop on the air conditioner and clean the air holistically, removing dust, microbials and even harmful gases.”
According to the Indian Green Building Council, the system offers very low airflow resistance with high filtration efficiency on PM2.5. As washable HEPA filters are very expensive and are not readily available, the Magneto Central Air Cleaner can be a replacement option for the conventional air filtration system of MERV 13 rating with HEPA filtration with retention efficiency of more than 93% given the most penetrating particle size.
Agarwal is a veteran of the Indian air conditioning industry, having spent the last 38 years in establishing brands such as Daikin and Trane in the Indian market. Magneto Cleantech is a member of the Magneto group of companies, which provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning related products and services. It was founded in March 2018 by Himanshu Agarwal and Bhanu Agarwal, a young software engineer and entrepreneur. The startup is bootstrapped, and it is looking at raising capital as it scales in 2020.
“We take a data-driven approach to purifying the air by continuously monitoring the many pollutants to deliver clean air 24×7,” he explains. Unlike standalone air purifiers that cannot cater to large air volumes and air filtration systems that need continuous replacement, Magneto Central Air Cleaner is effective in very large areas and do not require any recurring filter replacement. The cost of installation of the product is Rs 40 per square foot for commercial properties and Rs 100 per sq ft for residential properties.
Within one year of its launch, Magneto’s products have been adopted by corporates such as Apple, Uber, Nokia, DLF, and more. Godrej Properties recently launched its Air apartments in Gurugram using Magneto’s technology, and several hotel groups such as Leela, Oberoi, and Taj are adopting its technology. While the primary target audience has been locations with large spaces such as hotels, offices, schools, large homes, etc., Magneto is widening its product range to deliver solutions even for small spaces. “There are also numerous homeowners that are very pleased with our products. We’re also exploring collaboration possibilities with air conditioner manufacturers and air quality testing companies,” says Agarwal.
Magneto generates revenue from the sale, installation, and maintenance of its products directly and through its dealers. It is in the process of developing its network of dealers, contractors, and consultants. “In FY 2018, we delivered clean air to a total area of 25 lakh sq. ft. For FY 2019, we had a projected growth rate of 100%. We’ve been cash flow positive since the first day,” says Agarwal. Its products are available across the country, and it is setting up offices in Bengaluru and Mumbai.