MIT media lab graduate anirudh sharma has taken on the challenge of turning something as ugly as street pollution into something beautiful. the founder of grafiky 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.

graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017
30 ml of AIR-INK negates a whole 45 minutes worth of vehicular pollution

 

 

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. 

graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017
AIR-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 graffiky 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.  

graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017
AIR-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.

graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017
the 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. 

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

 

 

graffiky 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. 

graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017
the 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. 

graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017 
artists from around asia use the inks to turn dirt into beautiful drawings 

 

 

the inks are now available to the masses in the form of 2mm round tip and 15mm, 30mm and 50mm 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. 

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graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017 graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017   graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017

graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017graffiky labs air ink from pollution MIT media labs designboom 02-08-2017

 

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