AIR-INK is the world’s first ink made from the grubby particles of air pollution. Created as a response to Asia’s growing air pollution problem, it uses cutting edge technology to collect toxic pollutants from the air – transforming it into non-toxic art and design tools.
Now, we don’t know about you, but we love stationery and might just have more pens than we know what to do with. But rarely have we owned any quite as innovative as this range of pens, oil-based paints and spray paints.
By recycling the waste carbon and soot in air pollution, AIR-INK has transformed these useless – and damaging – waste materials into a superb ink. And at a pretty impressive rate – it takes just 30–50 minutes of car pollution to supply enough carbon to fill one AIR-INK pen.
Graviky Labs, the team behind AIR-INK, has managed to extract the black carbon particles in petrol and diesel emissions, capturing it straight from the exhaust pipes of cars in a device called a ‘kaalink.’
What’s more, the possibilities for Graviky Labs’ technology are potentially world changing. Literally sucking the particles from the air that poison us, and making them into products we actually use. The sci-fi technology of yesteryear is starting to become reality – and if that doesn’t excite you then nothing will.
What you see is what you get
The way AIR-INK has gone about getting its product and message out there is pretty cool. Reflecting the stark, stripped back aesthetic of its products, AIR-INK has used its inks on billboards, advertisements and street art, showing in simple terms what its ink is made from.
Slogans such as ‘THIS INK IS FROM 30 MINS OF BANGALORE AIR POLLUTION’ makes it abundantly clear to anyone passing by what AIR-INK is about. Plus, it’s matte black, which looks great no matter what the context.
This ink is from 30 mins of Bangalore air pollution.
The idea struck Anirudh Sharma, one of the Graviky Labs founders, when he noticed how stained his clothes were becoming as a result of pollution in India. Pollution in India – Graviky Labs is based in Bengaluru – has overtaken that of Beijing.
Even street artists on the graffiti scene can make good use of AIR-INK. They worked alongside Tiger Beer in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district to create street art murals, creating head-turning works of art, getting the message out there and doing their bit environmentally. The city state is known for its high air pollution, with one of the artists describing AIR-INK’s pens as ‘genius, and deserves a chance.’
So far AIR-INK has been designed for use in apparel production, printing and in art pens and design tools. As with anything this is merely the first step, and one would assume that as Graviky Labs’ research and technology further develop, there will be far more applications for AIR-INK.
Following a successful KickStarter campaign in 2017, AIR-INK has developed several products, from 0.7mm fine point markers to chunky 50mm wide tip markers for murals and large-scale pieces. The former is made from approximately 40 minutes of diesel car pollution; the latter from approximately 130 minutes of diesel car pollution. Prices start from $25.
Even for those not as passionate about waste and recycling, it’s a hell of a hook to get people’s attention. The fact that transforming harmful waste into quality ink saves on releasing further carbon into the atmosphere, as opposed to traditional ink production methods, makes it doubly cool.
Transforming harmful waste into quality ink saves on releasing further carbon into the atmosphere
What started as a project at the world renowned MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to turn air pollution into usable products has transformed from science experiment to viable business. Tackling visible waste is a cause that’s been taken up by companies and individuals far and wide – but how we tackle unseen waste is yet to be fully explored.
“6.1 million tonnes of carbon rich air pollution PM (particle matter) enters our environment every year,” they say. “Pollution that doesn’t enter our lungs, ends up in other waste streams. These microscopic particles end up in the marine food web, posing a major threat to ecology and to human health.” So if it’s not ending up in our lungs, it’s ending up in the food we eat.
Definitely something worth writing home about.