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.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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