One pen amounts to 45 minutes of reduced air pollution in one of the world's most highly-polluted areas.
When Anirudh Sharma, an Engineer that attended MIT, was growing up in Delhi, India, he remembers the air pollution being so bad that the exhaust from cars would often stain his clothes. He forgot about this detail after he moved away, but was reminded when he returned to India later in life and he “wondered, can we use pollution as a source of pigmentation?”
When he returned to the MIT Media Lab after his break, he set to work on creating a device that captures soot from a candle just to see if it could be done. He combined the particulates with oil and rubbing alcohol to produce a thick ink that he put into an ink cartridge for a printer and worked just as well as normal black ink. After this initial success, he knew that this process wasn’t exactly efficient or viable and told Wired,
“I wanted to give it the size and scale to solve much harder problems.”
Since the idea originated with air pollution, he decided that with the right lab and a bigger operation he could tackle the problem of pollution with this simple ink alternative. He became co-founder of Graviky Labs, which has gone on to make strides in the development of this ink.
Using a device called KAALINK, which is a combination of the Hindi word for “black” and the English word “ink,” that fits over car exhausts in order to collect soot, they are able to trap the major polluter that comes from cars and diesel generators. Each KAALINK can collect 95% of pollutants emitted from the exhaust and enough carbon for one fluid ounce of ink, which amounts to about 45 minutes of vehicular emission time.
The soot that’s collected undergoes a series of proprietary processes, which results in the removal of the heavy metals and carcinogens found in such emissions. The ink that’s yielded from the process is purified carbon rich pigment, called AIR-INK and can be used to make a variety of products.
Graviky Labs is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for anyone that wants to back the project and be among the first people to use the the AIR-INK pens and other products that the company is offering. The current ink products being offered are 2mm round tip pens and 15mm, 30mm and 50mm chisel tip markers, and screen printing ink.
Since the campaign is already fully funded, the lab hopes that with this initial backing they will be able to explore other mediums that their ink can be applied to, such as oil based paints, fabric paints, and outdoor paints.
Investing in innovative and sustainable alternatives such as these are a great way to help the environment in small ways when there is so little that can be done to control environmental legislation in other countries. Graviky Labs is likely only at the beginning of their amazing eco-conscious journey and hopefully will gain popularity as people seek out eco-friendly options for a variety of products.
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