Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

This Start-Up Has Figured Out How to Turn Diesel Pollution Into Art

Popular
A mural painted with Air-Ink. Graviky Labs

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

Critics charge the legislation induces poor communities to sell off their water rights. Pexels

By Eoin Higgins

Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.

Read More Show Less
People enjoy outdoor dining along Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach, California on July 8, 2020. Keith Birmingham / MediaNews Group / Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

California is reversing its reopening plans amidst a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Read More Show Less
A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less