15th February 2017

Air pollution ink writes a new chapter

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Entrepreneurs Anirudh Sharma and Nikhil Kaushik co-founded Graviky Labs, and claim to have cleaned at least 1.6 trillion litres (422 billion gallons) of air so far.

Together they have designed a device that captures soot from cars and diesel generators. Gasses pass through the small unit, while trapping other byproducts of fuel combustion — including the particles that cause respiratory diseases.

Research has shown that many premature deaths are directly related to soot in the environment. Particle exposure leads to around 20,000 premature deaths in America each year.

Sharma started experimenting with devices that would trap soot from candles, while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He discovered he could create ink similar in quality to commercial inks for computer printers or pens. And Air-Ink was born.

The ink is now the base of five products, including pens that perform similarly to Sharpie markers, a wide pen that works well for murals and large art installations, and spray paint.

While the pollution is removed from lungs to artwork, the product doesn’t claim to be a remedy for the heavy pollution, particularly in built up cities, but it’s a positive move.

The products display the amount of air pollution that they contain: a 0.7-millimetre, round-tip pen is made from about 40 minutes of diesel car pollution, while the 600 millilitre spray can holds the equivalent of 2,000 hours of the same pollution.

The firm has joined forces with the Singaporean beer brand Tiger, and are both distributing the ink products to artists in cities such as Hong Kong.

Graviky Labs says its products are ready for market, but it launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to scale their manufacture. So far, the campaign has raised more than $10,000. The company says it will also use the funds to develop inks that can be used for fabric as well as outdoor installations.