Here's how you can 'capture' pollution and put it to use.

Painting with pollution Trio turns your vehicles fumes into ink for art 'Air-Ink' from Graviky's pilot in Hong Kong
news Eco-friendly innovations Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 16:07

You thought no good could come out of the black smoke coming out of exhaust pipes and polluting the atmosphere? Wrong. Three Bengaluru-based youths show you how.

Anirudh Sharma, Nikhil Kaushik and Nitesh Kadyan who co-founded Graviky labs have developed a method to capture carbon from your exhaust pipes, turn it into ink, and voila! You can use it to write, paint and more.


Co-founders (from left): Anirudh Sharma, Nikhil kaushik and Nitesh Kadyan


This is in direct contrast with the two ways in which governments deal with pollution, says 29-year-old Nikhil, who handles business and media for the five month old Bengaluru-based startup. One, they want to ‚Äúreplace the fumes‚ÄĚ by switching from petrol to CNG fuel for instance. Two, they want to capture pollution after it has been released into the air. He is referring to the Maharashtra Environment ministry‚Äôs plan to install ‚Äúpollution sucking devices‚ÄĚ at traffic junctions across Mumbai.

‚ÄúBut we want to reduce the particulate matter which goes into the air in the first place. Hence the idea of capturing and ‚Äėutilizing‚Äô pollution at the vehicular level itself,‚ÄĚ says Anirudh, who handles ideation and tech.

Graviky’s USP lies in capturing the carbon at the source: catching the black fumes in a cylindrical unit called Kaalink which is attached to the exhaust pipes.


Image: Kaalink, attached to the exhaust pipe of a vehicle


Through electro-mechanical process, soot from fumes collects on the walls of the cylinder. By letting out the rest of the air, Kaalink prevents backpressure from being created in the engine. Carbon from the soot is purified by removing other particulate matter such as metal and then processed into ink.

Implementing the technology on a large scale would require policy interventions and possibly governmental help. ‚ÄúWe could make Kaalink available at petrol pumps, say. People could come there to even have it emptied. This would then go to factories where it could be purified and processed,‚ÄĚ explains Anirudh.

Graviky demonstrated the process at a recent pilot project with Tiger Beer in Hong Kong in July. They created 150 litres of this ‚ÄėAir-Ink‚Äô by capturing fumes that would be released in 2,500 hours. They then collaborated with various artists who used the ink to paint.

Watch this mesmerizing CNN video which documented the process.

‚ÄúArtists and communities from around the world have shown interest in taking the idea forward and promote eco-friendly practices by using our inks for creating art works. We are looking to eventually establish a global supply chain,‚ÄĚ says Nikhil. Responses have been positive from countries in North and South America, but Nikhil insists on keeping the details under wraps.


Images: Arists paint using Air-Ink in Hong Kong 


While the artist community is their main focus with manufacture of inks and paints, Graviky is also working towards creating other things out of the carbon collected, like carbon nano-tubes.

The technology is Anirudh’s brainchild from his stint at MIT Media lab in the US in 2013 and continues to be the chief disruptor in the team. But it was only after thorough research in 2014 and 2015 that trio, united by their drive for innovation, came together as Graviky. Nikhil is a chartered accountant, while Anirudh and Nitesh are engineers.

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