air pollution

Four Indian scientists’ solution to purify choking cities – ink made from air pollution

Air-Ink is made from carbon emissions.

Since June 2016, a group of four young Indian scientists has been collecting carbon emissions and soot from car exhaust pipes, chimneys and generators and turning it into an extremely functional product – ink.

The deep black ink, called Air-Ink, is created after soot undergoes a purification process to remove heavy metals and carcinogens, resulting in a purified carbon rich pigment that can be used in printer cartridges, for screen printing and for art supplies, like calligraphy pens or whiteboard markers.

Graviky Labs, the company that made Air-Ink, is a Bengaluru-based lab. It is a clean technology company that is working towards industrialising the process of recycling air pollution emissions into pigments and ink. Graviky Labs was founded by Anirudh Sharma, Nikhil Kaushik and Nitesh Kadyan.

Play

Kaalink to Air Ink

In 2013, Sharma first thought of Air-Ink – except with a different name. At that point, he called it Kaalink. An inventor, Sharma wanted to figure out a way to capture air pollution before it even entered the atmosphere. Together, he and Kaushik created the cylindrical metal contraption that can be attached to car exhaust pipes and industrial chimneys to capture the particulate matter from vehicle and industrial emissions.

By 2015, when the air pollution in Delhi began to hit alarming levels and the Delhi government was implementing measures to improve the air quality in the city, Graviky was already field testing Kaalink. They soon realised that 45 minutes worth of emission could yield almost 30ml of liquid ink, enough to fill one Air-Ink pen.

Graviky has since created several grades of Air-Ink with different applications: markers with 2mm and 15mm round tips, 30mm and 50mm chisel tips, along with screen printing ink.

The founders of Graviky, along with Nisheet Singh, their technical Development Lead, launched a campaign in February on the crowdfunding website, Kickstarter, to raise money for the mass production of Air-Ink. Within 10 days, they surpassed their goal of raising $14,000.

“We are currently in discussions with several organisations and governments in India as well as in other parts of the world, for large scale deployment of Kaalink,” said Kaushik. “We are also planning on working with several Indian artists and their response has been phenomenal.”

Image courtesy: Graviky Labs.
Image courtesy: Graviky Labs.

Street art from the street

The main target consumers for Air-Ink have been street artists and designers until now. As part of their pilot project with Tiger Beer in Hong Kong, the creators of the ink distributed Air-Ink pens among street artists commissioned to design murals on the streets of Hong Kong.

“It seemed pretty obvious that the best people to popularise this technology would be those from the art world,” said Kaushik. “The artists have been the first ones to take Air-Ink out to the world by creating something that connects with the masses.” Celebrated artists, such as Bao Ho, Xeme and Kristopher Ho, were involved in the project.

Since the first event in Hong Kong, many similar events have taken place in other cities, including London, New York, Sidney, Singapore and Amsterdam.

The ink to be used in commercial printers is still undergoing in-house testing. Air-Ink pens will be rolled out for purchase through an online store by Graviky by the end of 2017. According to Kaushik, they are not worried about finding a market for Air-Ink pens, since the artist markers available usually cost between $25 and $30 (Rs 1,600 to Rs 1,900) and the Air-Ink pens will be available at a similar price. “The Air-Ink markers, though made of plastic, are reusable and therefore last for a long time,” said Kaushik. “They can be refiled with our ink or, for that matter, any other ink too. This helps us in making the whole process significantly carbon negative.”

The waste generated by Graviky during the purification process of the soot, is also sorted and recycled by waste management companies. Until now Graviky has produced over a thousand litres of ink and it claims it has purified more than 1.6 trillion litres of air in the process. Their upcoming project includes testing Kaalink on the roads of New Delhi.

Art work by Bao Ho. Image courtesy: Graviky Labs.
Art work by Bao Ho. Image courtesy: Graviky Labs.

Hong Kong-based artist Kristopher Ho was one of the first team of artists engaged in the pilot event to test Air-Ink. “To be honest, when I first heard of the technology of transforming pollution into ink, I thought it was just another marketing gimmick,” said Kristopher. But, as he found out, “the ink itself is solid black and relatively thick compare to other types of inks in the market, which makes it ideal to paint on porous surfaces, since it fills up the tiny pores and gaps”.

In Kristopher’s mural of a charging tiger, the tiger’s fur doubles up as fumes. For his London mural, he drew a similar image but this time with iconic landmarks like the Big Ben and the London Eye, emerging from the fumes. Another mural by street artist Bao Ho shows a future in which everyone wears masks and spacesuits to escape the poisonous air.

Ho used around 15 markers for the mural made for the London leg of the event. “I think very often when artists and designers create their artwork, they tend to create a lot of waste, many artists are well aware of that and they have been trying their best to minimise the waste,” said Ho. “However if we are using recycled material or materials generated from pollution...it’s definitely a better choice. The wonder of having a material which is generated from our everyday waste definitely is a good start to raise awareness of pollution problems around the world.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

When house hunting is as easy as shopping for groceries

The supermarket experience comes to a sector where you least expected it.

The woes of a house hunter in India are many. The dreary process starts with circling classifieds in newspapers and collecting shiny brochures. You flip through the proposed and ready designs that launch a hundred daydreams on the spot. So far so good. But, every house hunter would attest to the soul-crushing experience of checking out a disappointing property.

The kitchen of a 2BHK is carved from the corner of the hall, the 3BHK is a converted 2BHK, the building looks much older than in the pictures…. after months of reading the fine line, and between the lines, you feel like all the diagrams and highlights seem to blur into each other.

After much mental stress, if you do manage to zero in on a decent property, there’s a whole new world of knowledge to be navigated - home loans to be sifted through, taxes to be sorted and a finance degree to be earned for understanding it all.

Do you wish a real estate platform would address all your woes? Like a supermarket, where your every need (and want) is catered to? Imagine all your property choices nicely lined up and arranged with neat labels and offers. Imagine being able to compare all your choices side by side. Imagine viewing verfied listings and knowing what you see is what you get. Imagine having other buyers and experts guiding you along every step while you make one of the most important investments in your life. Imagine...

MagicBricks has made every Indian house hunters’ daydream of a simplified real estate supermarket a reality. Now you have more than a pile of brochures at your disposal as the online real estate marketplace brings you lakhs of choices to your fingertips. Instead of bookmarking pages, you can narrow down your choices by area, budget, house type etc. Just so you aren’t hit by FOMO, you can always add a suburb you’ve been eyeing or an extra bedroom to your filter. But there’s more to a house than just floor space. On MagicBricks, you can check for good schools in the vicinity, a park for evening walks or at least an assured easier commute. Save time and energy by vetting properties based on the specs, pictures and floor plans uploaded and have all your niggling concerns addressed on the users’ forum.

Shortlisted a property? Great! No need to descend down another spiral of anxiety. Get help from reliable experts on MagicBricks on matters of legalities, home loans, investment, property worth etc. You can even avail their astrology and Vastu services to ensure an auspicious start to life in your new home or office. With its entire gamut of offerings, MagicBricks has indeed brought the supermarket experience to real estate in India, as this fun video shows below.

Play

Get started with a simplified experience of buying, renting and selling property on MagicBricks here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of MagicBricks and not by the Scroll editorial team.