Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Shelco

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What is the name of your solution?

Shelco

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

A modular, dust capturing, insulated sandwich roof panel for lower socio-economic houses

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

In the city of Delhi in India, air pollution is a perennial problem. At least 1 million people have died due to air pollution(2017). In 2021, the city had to enter into a lockdown because of the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 reaching highly toxic levels. As a country, several Indian states are affected by air pollution where at least 660 million Indians lose 3 years of their life from breathing the air. While there are several contributors to the toxicity of the air, one major contribution is the stubble-burning practice in the neighbouring farming states around Delhi. Stubble is the leftover rice and wheat stalks that are discarded after harvesting. These states produce the highest yield of rice and wheat in the country and subsequently the highest discarding of the stalks. As they serve no purpose to the farmers, they are burnt in large volumes to clear off. This results in fumes that travel towards Delhi's atmosphere and mix with the dense air causing smog. One of the most affected populations by the air quality is the lower-socioeconomic communities living in the slums of Delhi. They are located in the heart of the city stretching wide spans with over an average of 2million families living per slum. Across these 500 slums just in the city of Delhi, these families live in below-par housing conditions. Their roofs are made from scavenged corrugated metal sheets or tarpaulin sheets that act like makeshift shelters. Improper insulation forces them to burn firewood to keep themselves warm during winters which result in further pollution both indoors and outdoors. Overall, their housing conditions directly impact the quality of the air they breathe and in turn economies of growth. The key gap identified is the influence of housing conditions in slums on the quality of the air they breathe. This issue is a problem across the country where slum dwellers live in a compromising habitat that results in early mortality and a loss of livelihood. 

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What is your solution?

Our solution seeks to tap the gap by tying housing solutions with air purification. Shelco is a modular, insulating sandwich panel that purifies the air. The sandwich panel comprises a dust separator module, and insulating material held between a metal casing. The dust separation module houses 4 swirl dust separators. Swirl separators are axial flow cyclones that separate clean air from dust-laden airflow. As the dust-laden air flows through the separator, it hits two levels of guide vanes that swirl the flow. The centrifugal flow results in radial ejection when the system passes through a separation slit. This causes the particles to settle down in the dust chamber as clean air moves out. The design has been modified to achieve a near 80 % separation efficiency of particulate matter 10 and 2.5 and a good 98 % efficiency for higher-order particles and visible dust. These particles are vacuumed out periodically from the common settling line and clean air exits from the common air outlet line. The particles collected are then used in building blocks which creates a holistic closed-loop system around pollution control. Another key element of our solution is the insulation material. Lack of proper insulation results in contributing to pollution. Industrial standards like polyurethane foam are expensive and unsustainable in production. This is why bio-based alternatives were of interest. We researched the potential alternatives and found stubble’s properties as an effective insulator. Being one of the significant contributors to air pollution in Delhi, our solution involves sourcing the stubble from rice and wheat farmers and creating insulating mats. These mats are fireproofed and waterproofed by placing them inside our metal shell as insulators. The R-value of stubble is as good as commercial options. It also adds value to these otherwise burnt off by-products and for the farmers who will be fairly reimbursed. Each of our panels is modularly stacked through piping couplers between the panels and is vertically supported through Z purlins. This creates a stacking that effectively captures large volumes of air to filter and is easily integrable for different housing sizes and conditions. 

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our target population are the slum dwellers situated specifically in urban areas. This is because they are the least equipped to cope with the pollution created in urban cities. Most of the breadwinners of these households work in informal labour sectors such as construction site labourers, housekeepers, etc. Their average pay is very limited to around 10000 rupees or lesser (<130$) per house per month. This economic barrier is reflected in their housing conditions. As a remedy, the government has tried to allocate houses for them; however, these houses aren’t designed to accommodate the large families housed in these slums. Moreover, often these houses are preyed on by corruption leaving these families vulnerable to socioeconomic, and political factors. Furthermore, from our interactions with the slum dwellers, we became aware of the sentiment these slums mean toward their residents. It is their property that passes over generations and is symbolic of the well-knit community that they have developed over these generations. With our solution, we can integrate it within their existing living conditions making the land that they live on only better. In terms of affordability, having an affordable-tech solution makes operation and maintenance easier. Currently, they source cheap scavenged materials which are also not firmly fixed to the house. They are often economically under-resourced to plan their house and use appropriate materials to have sturdy roofing. Our solution is an easy-fix design as it is prefabricated and part of our service is to rethink their housing with our customers. With their current methods, another significant issue is the overheads involved in maintaining these cheap materials. Their overheads add up significantly to their monthly expenses as the roofs suffer intense wear and tear due to extreme and erratic weather. On a social development goal, slum dwellers are often misrepresented. They suffer discrimination and are unfairly exploited due to their economic, educational, and societal positions. There have been several measures put in place by the government to “clean” the cities of slums which strongly undermines the quality of life in these areas for their residents. Our roofing solution adds aesthetics and functionality to these houses. These slums would act as large scale air purifiers which intend to change their perception of them. 

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We are a team of engineers, designers, and architects. Our expertise is well within the intersection of technical disciplines needed to realise the project. We hail from India and have interacted with slum dwellers in slums in other Indian states to understand their difficulties and how our solution can be adapted to fit their needs. A few of our interns are in constant touch with slum dwellers to evaluate their feedback. For our first phase of prototyping, we are constructing a setup in a slum in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and Kusum Pahari in Delhi. We have been talking to the dwellers of these slums to understand their perception of our solution. So far, we have been receiving strong support for the idea from them as they recognise the need for better housing and clean air at least for their future generation. Getting their feedback on the economic feasibility is what pushed us to devise our technology. One of their concerns with electronically or chemically driven solutions was maintenance. We, therefore, designed a completely mechanical separation that has no moving parts which allow for easy maintenance. Another issue was the cost itself however we came to know how well-integrated microfinancing options were in these slums. This makes the roof affordable for them through instalments paid over a fixed time. We also came to know of how they had people within their closed knit community who assisted in setting up these temporary roofs. As their expertise was quite limited, we realised our solution had to be easily placed and dismantled. This drove our modular prefabricated design. Every detail of our solution has been carefully consulted with our sample slum group in tandem with architects who work on planning and construction in these areas. We got in touch with contractors for these areas and understood their inputs for a more holistic point of view from various stakeholders in the construction industry.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Enable mass production of inexpensive and low-carbon housing, including changes to design, materials, and construction methods.

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

London, UK
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Our solution's stage of development:

Prototype
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How many people does your solution currently serve?

We are in our prototyping phase aiming to target 2500 households (10000 people) by the end of beta testing.

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Why are you applying to Solve?

Financial : We are looking to use the capital offered to conduct beta testing in 4 other cities in India and expand it to other countries. 

Technical : We want to partner with firms that can assist in our beta testing process. We would like to improve the efficiency of our system for which access to climate and filtration labs can make our process more efficient. Currently, we are performing inhouse testing for structural integrity. Having strength testing, fire testing, and construction product testing lab access would improve our system design.

 

Legal : We would need assistance in authorisation needed for construction technology building materials. 

 

Market : We are an emerging tech market group. We would like to expand our product to other countries beyond India. We are also looking to expand it to Industries with labour colonies where construction dust significantly impacts their health. We believe through Solve’s partner communities we would have assistance in scaling up our manufacturing process and penetrating into the construction market. Our vision is to standardise our solution for different roofing designs inviting a new-wave of innovative building solutions. We believe we can achieve these through the networking that the Solve community has and from the unparalleled mentorship from like-minded leaders and thinkers.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

PREETHI JAYAKUMAR

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?


Our solution is innovative because of how it tackles the case and the cause of air pollution in Delhi. By having stubble integrated as insulation material and a dust purification system inside one’s roof, we are tackling multiple problem statements within one solution. We are offering strong, durable roofs for the underprivileged while ensuring a city-wide purification for all strata of society. With the construction industry embracing the dawn of low-carbon housing and climate positive solutions, we seek to go a step further and add functionality beyond what housing systems are meant to do. We believe if our solution can be expanded into an industry standard, it can truly revolutionize the way building components are designed for the future. Our roof panels, and the system around them, are curated in a way that it runs co-dependently as a win-win for all the entities for generations. We are targeting our solution as a system design that empowers slum dwellers through labour offered for stitching the mats, rice and wheat farmers through reimbursements for their stubble, and the city government who can invest through incentives offered for setting up the roof. Our product works perennially, making an impact unhindered. If it can get standardized, we can assume every roof to act as purifier which can significantly impact the air that we breathe.

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

NEXT YEAR

1. Improve economic growth for rice and wheat farmers, for informal labour in construction colonies, and labour for slums in manufacturing our panels

2. Identify reduction in air pollutants through constant monitoring

NEXT 5 YEARS

1. Improve systems further and roll out more standardised solutions globally

2. Reducing air pollutant count to be stabilised for longer durations

3. Make more government incentives to encourage mass adoption

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

1. We are constantly checking our system's performance in monitoring air quality. We have thus been able to achieve efficiency of separation from 30 to 80 percent

2. We have been in touch with slum dwellers and creating word-of-mouth marketing to see their adoption rates of our design

3. We have begun employing members of the community to work for us which is a pilot launch in our system design to employ slum dwellers and improve their local economy

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What is your theory of change?

Our roofs are meant to offer stable durable insulated roofing panels that improve the quality of living while purifying the surrounding air. The design is very flexible and modular. Having modular systems enables speedy construction, reduced cost, easy maintenance and flexibility to build on a variety of slum house sizes. The material used for these roof panels ensures a long life span, capable of resisting environmental forces.

Our estimated cost of one panel is 50 dollars, which makes the entire roof cost starting at 680 dollars. Even though the existing roof setups only cost 150 dollars, it doesn’t account for the recurring overheads. Over the long run our roof system is much more economical. Functioning as large-scale air purifiers, government incentives and microfinance schemes can be offered to reduce the cost and encourage mass adoption. 

On a public development scale, the number of slums in Delhi are plenty, and having our roofs spread across these slums can clean the air exponentially. Our roofs will provide a healthier environment, bettering the lives of the lower socio economic people by reducing their medical expenses and energy consumption.


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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The dust separation follows the swirl diffuser’s principle to expel the dust particles into a dust collection chamber. As the dust-laden air enters, it passes through guide vanes that swirl the air. This air and particles passes through a separation gap. From the separation gap, the particles travel and lose their centrifugal force causing them to get ejected and settle down in the dust chamber. The same process happens twice which improves our efficiency significantly. 

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13. Climate Action
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • India
  • United Kingdom
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • India
  • United Kingdom
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Not registered as any organization

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How many people work on your solution team?

2 Full-time staff, 4 part-time, 3 contractors

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How long have you been working on your solution?

6 months

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

52470_shelco%20business%20model-min_1440x810.jpg
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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Government (B2G)
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What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Shelco roof panels are designed to fit a variety of scenarios from slum dwellings, construction labor colonies, and factories. Most of the funds would be generated from sale of roof panels to the above mentioned people and companies. Another major contributor would be the local government as these roofs also help cleaning up the city on a continuous basis. As there are hardly any viable solutions that does the same, convincing all the parties would be possible without investing a lot on building the brand first. The strategically positioned solution and the fact that the dust cleanup would be ever running, will ensure funding from government contracts on a service model. These roof panels being a unique, first-to-market product that can cater to millions of families not just in India but also other developing nations like Indonesia, Africa, and South American countries. We intend to raise investment capital in the next year which will enable us to start manufacturing on scale and build a team to manage the new system. 

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Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

As of now, our start up is bootstrapped funded by friends and family. 

We are the finalist in Stanford Longevity Challenge from where we got funds to build a prototype and might get further funds to manufacture a small batch of panels for phase 1.

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Solution Team

 
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