Pollution Might Become An Artist’s New Best Friend

By Devin Garcia 5 Min Read

As the world progresses, so do the levels of pollution in our air. The bigger the city, the more people, the more pollution in the air. New cars and other types of smoke producing buildings only continue to add to this, too. Graviky Labs has the solution, and it’s Air-Ink.

What better way to go about repurposing something harmful than turning it into something useful? That’s exactly what MIT’s Anirudh Sharma decided to do. With a simple idea and groundbreaking technology, Sharma has managed to turn car emitted exhaustion soot into cartridge ink.

The idea first came when Anirudh Sharma was visiting Delhi, India. In 2016, Delhi was ranked one of the world’s most polluted cities due to an increase in cars and industrialization. Delhi has 35% of the total pollution resulting from emissions that come out of a vehicle’s tailpipe. Being Sharma’s hometown, he decided to turn something harmful and irksome into consumer safe ink.

Sharma invented Kaalink, an electrostatic filter that goes attached to a vehicle’s tailpipe where it captures 95% of outgoing pollutants. Kaalink does not harm or alter the vehicle in any way. The soot emitted from the tailpipe gets processed and turn into different paints and inks for artists and writers to use safely.

Kaalink was first presented at INK Conference in 2013. By 2014, Sharma and Kaalink started working on sensing air pollution and the ability to capture it. By 2016, Sharma co-founded Graviky Labs with Nikhil Kaushik, where they started their real world testing. In conjunction with Tiger Beer, an Air-Ink campaign was held where artists and environmentalists around the world were able to see and test out products and further Sharma’s vision. After the first video explanation of what Air-ink would be, Kaalink got over 1,000 different enquires from people interested around the world. Sharma was on the reality TV show “The Vault” where he won $119,000 from Investor Mohit Goel, CEO of Omaxe Limited.

There are several chemical processes involved to send the soot through detox. Heavy metals and carcinogens have to be removed. Sharma said the most difficult was testing under different temperatures of tailpipes along with finding the right way to capture the soot. The resulting carbon pigment is then made sure it’s the right consistency for becoming a paint or ink. And since making carbon black ink is made by burning petroleum, Air-Ink will not only reduce the burning process but use what’s in the air to make the desired black ink. It takes Graviky Labs 45 minutes to make 2 weeks of car emission pollution to get about 30 milliliter of ink.

While transforming pollution into the production of paints and inks is quite beautiful, the main underlying benefit from this process is ridding the world of pollution. According to The World Bank, air pollution costs $5.11 trillion globally in just welfare loses. Not to mention, soot pollution is known for being minuscule in size. These tiny particles travel into our lungs where the carcinogens cause harmful damage. A reported 3 millions deaths a year are just due to outdoor pollution alone.

Graviky Labs say they’d like to see Kaalink on bus and taxi tailpipes, as well as older model cars that lack emission control. Fitting these vehicles with Kaalink would result in less pollution in the air and more ink in our printers for practically half the price. Currently, felt-tip pen markers used for calligraphy and silkscreen ink are available as Air-Ink. Sharma and Nikhil are using crowdfunding to bring Kaalink to its final stage into bettering the world. One marker costs about $25, which isn’t all that much of a price difference from buying other ink cartridges, if not less. A silkscreen and T-shirt printing set can be purchased for around $200. Graviky Labs hopes to lower prices and make Air-Ink more accessible with more funding as well.

Air-Ink brings a new face to recycling. So far, Kaalink has cleaned 1.6 trillion liters of air. Sharma along with Kaushik would like to one day commercialize Kaalink for every day use. Eventually, they would like to see production of bigger, better versions of pollution capturing and transforming ideas come to life.

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