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This Start-Up Has Figured Out How to Turn Diesel Pollution Into Art
By Clara Chaisson
Air pollution isn't pretty. Worldwide, it's linked to stroke, heart disease, respiratory problems, low birth weight and millions of premature deaths annually.
In the world's most polluted cities, the particles can be so dense that they obscure the sky and stain everything from clothes to windowpanes.
Graviky Labs, an India-based start-up that emerged from the MIT Media Lab, is taking a lemons-to-lemonade approach to soot. The company transforms the deadly particulate matter into art supplies.
The process kicks off with a specially designed contraption called KAALINK that can capture up to 95 percent of particulate emissions. Graviky retrofits each unit to diesel generators, trucks and cars, then collects the soot and purifies it into a carbon-based pigment by removing heavy metals and carcinogens. Finally, the carbon pigment is chemically processed to bind it into inks and paints, known as Air-Ink.
Graviky created a special contraption called KAALINK that captures up to 95 percent of particulate emissions from a vehicle.Graviky Labs
The idea first came to company cofounder Anirudh Sharma back in 2013, when he traveled to India, home to 10 of the world's 20 most polluted cities. After several years of testing the technology and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Graviky shipped its first products this past summer.
Artists have already been busy putting Air-Ink to the test, including through a partnership with Tiger Beer. The Asian lager company invited street artists in Hong Kong to experiment with the repurposed pollution. "At the beginning, I thought, 'It's just another gimmick,'" Kristopher Ho, a Hong Kong–based artist and early Air-Ink tester, told MIT. "But after I tried the markers, I realized they are actually pretty good."
A mural in New York City, painted with Air-Ink.Graviky Labs
Graviky makes the environmental connection of its inks explicit, calculating just how much pollution went into each marker. The smallest, a 0.7 millimeter round tip, contains about 40 minutes' worth of diesel car pollution, while a 50 millimeter wide tip contains about 130 minutes' worth.
Overall, so far, the technology has captured some 1.6 billion micrograms of particulate matter—or, put another way, cleaned 1.6 trillion liters of air. It's a small—albeit impressive—start, but Sharma envisions scaling up to outfit entire truck and taxi fleets with the technology.
For now, Graviky is removing something harmful and putting more art into the world. And that's a beautiful thing.
Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Turrentine
First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.
Inslee's 'Evergreen Economy Plan' Calls for $9 Trillion Investment in New Green Jobs, Would Help Fossil Fuel Workers Transition
By Julia Conley
A new climate action plan put forth by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday is being praised for highlighting the enormous benefits that would result from a rapid shift in the U.S. to a renewable energy economy that centers on the needs of workers and vulnerable communities.