Cleaning Through Light

Adarsh Shukla's Photolite surface enhancement coating helps curb air pollution using visible light.

By Jason Chiang

May 2019

Cleaning Through Light

Application of Adarsh Shukla’s Photolite coating can transform any building surface into a light-activated air purifier, thereby reducing indoor and outdoor air pollution. Photograph courtesy Adarsh Shukla

Adarsh Shukla is an entrepreneur and technology enthusiast, driven to solve mass problems through innovative technologies. This passion led to the founding of YNA Enterprises in New Delhi. One of its cutting-edge products is Photolite, a transparent coating aimed at reducing the air pollution in cities by using visible light. The coating contains a light-activated material that transforms any building surface into an air purifier. This helps improve indoor and outdoor air quality of the surrounding area, as well as reduce electricity consumption and dependence on air purifiers.

Shukla has received training at the Nexus Incubator start-up hub at the American Center New Delhi, a collaboration with the IC2 Institute of The University of Texas at Austin.

Excerpts from an interview.

Could you share a little bit about your background and how you decided to work toward mitigating air pollution?

I was raised in Lucknow, where I studied electrical engineering. I later moved to New Delhi. The daily challenges of my life in the city developed my interest in solving the basic problems in society by using technology.

My journey of working on the air pollution crisis started with one of my holiday trips to the Himalayas, where I experienced fresh and clean air.
After spending two weeks there, while I was coming back to New Delhi, I started feeling suffocated and affected by the bad smell in the air. That incident made me realize how much pollution we are dealing with in our daily lives.

Are there any lesser-known aspects of air pollution that you hope to raise more awareness about?

Every time we talk about air pollution, we think of lung diseases, allergies and deaths. But, reactive gases like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are silent killers that affect slowly and degrade the decision-making ability of our brain. These pollutants are creating a high risk of mental illness in children and dementia in the elderly. Also, commercial workplaces with inefficient indoor environments are highly exposed to these pollutants and result in the loss of annual productivity per employee.

Could you please tell us how you came up with Photolite?

The main idea behind Photolite was to develop a sustainable, scalable and easily-applicable solution to control the air quality in cities. Keeping this in mind, I started researching air filters, and ended up experimenting with nanotechnology and biochemistry.

I have created a transparent high-performance coating, which can turn any building surface into a light-activated air purifier. It is non-toxic in nature and can even be applied on glass surfaces without affecting their transparency. Photolite is a very effective solution to reduce harmful reactive gases in indoor environments and provide protection from mold and viruses.

What are some of the practical applications of Photolite in everyday life?

We spend about 80 to 90 percent of our time indoors. Imagine a world where the indoor environment can improve our quality of life and health, and even make us more productive. Photolite can be an easy solution to help shape a great indoor environment, while we’re building or renovating homes, schools and commercial spaces. Its easy application and non-toxic nature makes it accessible to even a non-technical person facing the problem of dirty bathroom tiles, mold or open-kitchen odors.

What were some of the biggest takeaways from your association with the Nexus Incubator?

The Nexus Incubator was an ice-breaker opportunity that connected me with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India. The program helped me in creating frameworks through one-on-one mentorship and in understanding the difference between a technology and a problem-solving product.

Looking to the future, what goals do you have for Photolite? Which other global environmental or health challenges are you most excited to take on?
With Photolite, I aim to bring solutions that can help shape better, productive environments and improve the quality of life. I am highly fascinated by the vast oceans, and I would love to find ways to use this gift of nature for a better future.

Jason Chiang is a freelance writer based in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.


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