Graviky Labs: Recycling street pollution into Ink for artists

The founder of Graviky labs has launched AIR-INK, a startup that takes carbon emissions from car exhaust pipes and transforms them into a dense black pigment to make ink for artists.


img.030 ml of AIR-INK negates a whole 45 minutes worth of vehicular pollution

MIT media lab graduate Anirudh Sharma has taken on the challenge of turning something as ugly as street pollution into something beautiful.

Sharma first experimented with recycling carbon at MIT media lab, where he created a tool to extract soot from a candle. He used it to run a handheld printer, which soon became popular with environmentalists and artists alike. Realizing that this soot was very similar to the carbon pigment used in regular black ink, Sharma then scaled the project for global impact. He developed prototypes to literally ‘harvest’ air pollution from car engines and other sources.

img.1AIR-INK is made out of the tiny particles in air pollution such as unburned carbon soot

The project first launched in two cities renown for their high pollution levels — Delhi and Bangalore. The Graviky team developed KAALINK, a soot-capturing device that is retrofitted to the exhaust pipe of heavily polluting vehicles. The carbon-trap captures the emissions, reducing air pollution by preventing them from being released into the atmosphere

img.2AIR-INK’s KAAKINK device is named with a play on the Hindi word for black

The unit automatically turns on when an engine is activated and gases start flowing through the exhaust. This activates the flow and thermo-sensor, which in turn engages a mechatronic capture system. All fine particle matter is then captured within the walls of the unit, whilst the purified gasses pass through.

img.3The pigment is mixed with oil and solvents to produce different grades of ink

Once collected, the soot undergoes various proprietary processes to remove heavy metals, carcinogen and dust particles. Left behind at the end is a beautifully pure, carbon-rich pigment. The pigment is then ground to powder and mixed with varying amounts of solvents and oil to produce inks of different thicknesses, for varying purposes. 

45 minutes worth of vehicular emissions is equal to one fluid ounce of ink—which is enough to produce a pen.

img.4AIR-INK is available as 2 mm, 15 mm, 30 mm and 50 mm markers, and as 150 ml of screen printing ink

Graviky labs partnered with Asian beer-producers Tiger to be able to test their materials with artists from around the world, who found that the product added a beautifying depth to their work. 

img.5The collaboration with tiger beer saw the inks given to groups of artists to see what they could create

We’re at a time where we need art not just for beauty. We need it for social and political purposes. We need it to create environmental awareness because pollution is at an all time high. AIR-INK will help a lot of people, states Dibarah Mahmoob, an illustrator from Dhaka.

img.6Artists from around Asia use the inks to turn dirt into beautiful drawings

The inks are now available to the masses in the form of 2 mm round tip and 15 mm, 30 mm and 50 mm chisel tip markers, and screen printing ink. with a full set being equal to approximately 19.6 hours of diesel car pollution, AIR-INK’s materials are literally making our streets more beautiful.

img.7Artists from around Asia use the inks to turn dirt into beautiful drawings

For further information, please visit Desigboom