Graviky Labs – making the best use of Air Pollution!
“Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
Worldwide ambient air pollution accounts for:
- 29% of all deaths and disease from lung cancer
- 17% of all deaths and disease from acute lower respiratory infection
- 24% of all deaths from stroke
- 25% of all deaths and disease from ischaemic heart disease
- 43% of all deaths and disease from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
The major pollutant that causes air pollution is Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), it affects not only our lungs but the overall health of the body including mental health.
About Graviky Labs:
Graviky Labs is a Bangalore based startup that upcycles carbon from various air pollution sources like chimneys and exhausts and turns it into high-quality ink – “AirInk”. It is the world’s first ink recycled out of air pollution, used in carbon-negative printing and production.
How Graviky Labs Started?
On a trip to India in 2012, co-founder Anirudh Sharma Captured a photo of a diesel generator blowing black soot against a white wall. He then was a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab – he thought the ink we use in our pens or inkjet printers is essentially made from soot that is produced from burning fossil fuels. Why not use soot from diesel cars, generators, and other pollution sources to produce ink.
In 2013, Anirudh and his friends “hacked” an inkjet printer cartridge to print using ink made from soot from a candle at the MIT’s Media Lab. A year later after completing his masters’s degree at MIT, Anirudh returned to India to focus on developing what was later called “AirInk”. When it worked, he along with his team built a lab in a garage in Bangalore to produce a device that could capture air pollution at the source, in engines or factory machinery.
They developed a filtering device called “Kaalink” which contained a steel cylinder that is affixed to an exhaust pipe. Kaalink can be used to filter air pollution from a source and turn it into soot, which is then hydrated to form ink used in the AirInk pen and markers.
To advertise and share the product Anirudh was sure that he wanted to start with artists. He sent AirInk to artists around the world who created street arts that publicized the product. In 2016, he paired up with the Singapore-based brewery Tiger Beer to create street art and murals using AIR-INK in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district. “Art wasn’t the way to make money for us — it was the way for us to build a community. They [artists] take this idea beyond the science and the impact,” Anirudh explains.
People from different industries started coming to them to take care of their pollution. “They started coming to us and asking us to send it to us because we were making something people can buy. They started seeing AIR-INK as an opportunity to get rid of their waste, so it doesn’t end up in a landfill.” - Anirudh says.
Key features of AirInk:
Each marker holds about 30 milliliters of AIR-INK, which is equivalent to approximately 45 minutes of diesel car pollution that would have otherwise gone into the environment.
It is beneficial in two ways, firstly it is preventing the burning of fossil fuels to produce ink and secondly by capturing the carbon which is being generated from many other sources.
Air-Ink is on display at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design in New York, in the exhibition “Nature-Copper Hewitt Design Triennial” co-organized with the Cube designs museum in Kerkrade, Netherlands.
Approximately 4.2 million premature deaths occur all over the world because of air pollution. Graviky Labs is preventing particulate matter – the major cause of air pollution from being released into the atmosphere. Seeing the impacts of pollution on our health along with the impacts due to increasing climate change we need more such innovations to protect ourselves.
We need stricter laws in India regarding the disposing of particulate matter as they land up in landfills or rivers because people think it is expensive to dispose of.
Remember the clock is ticking very fast and we have very little time left to prevent catastrophic changes in climate.