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.

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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.”

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Advice from an ex-robber on how to keep your home safe

Tips on a more hands-on approach of keeping your house secure.

Home, a space that is entirely ours, holds together our entire world. Where our children grow-up, parents grow old and we collect a lifetime of memories, home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. So, what do you do when your home is eyed by miscreants who prowl the neighbourhood night and day, plotting to break in? Here are a few pre-emptive measures you can take to make your home safe from burglars:

1. Get inside the mind of a burglar

Before I break the lock of a home, first I bolt the doors of the neighbouring homes. So that, even if someone hears some noise, they can’t come to help.

— Som Pashar, committed nearly 100 robberies.

Burglars study the neighbourhood to keep a check on the ins and outs of residents and target homes that can be easily accessed. Understanding how the mind of a burglar works might give insights that can be used to ward off such danger. For instance, burglars judge a house by its front doors. A house with a sturdy door, secured by an alarm system or an intimidating lock, doesn’t end up on the burglar’s target list. Upgrade the locks on your doors to the latest technology to leave a strong impression.

Here are the videos of 3 reformed robbers talking about their modus operandi and what discouraged them from robbing a house, to give you some ideas on reinforcing your home.

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2. Survey your house from inside out to scout out weaknesses

Whether it’s a dodgy back door, a misaligned window in your parent’s room or the easily accessible balcony of your kid’s room, identify signs of weakness in your home and fix them. Any sign of neglect can give burglars the idea that the house can be easily robbed because of lax internal security.

3. Think like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

You don’t need to plant intricate booby traps like the ones in the Home Alone movies, but try to stay one step ahead of thieves. Keep your car keys on your bed-stand in the night so that you can activate the car alarm in case of unwanted visitors. When out on a vacation, convince the burglars that the house is not empty by using smart light bulbs that can be remotely controlled and switched on at night. Make sure that your newspapers don’t pile up in front of the main-door (a clear indication that the house is empty).

4. Protect your home from the outside

Collaborate with your neighbours to increase the lighting around your house and on the street – a well-lit neighbourhood makes it difficult for burglars to get-away, deterring them from targeting the area. Make sure that the police verification of your hired help is done and that he/she is trustworthy.

While many of us take home security for granted, it’s important to be proactive to eliminate even the slight chance of a robbery. As the above videos show, robbers come up with ingenious ways to break in to homes. So, take their advice and invest in a good set of locks to protect your doors. Godrej Locks offer a range of innovative locks that are un-pickable and un-duplicable. To secure your house, see here.

The article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Locks and not by the Scroll editorial team.