It is official: Delhi is the city with the world’s worst air pollution. More and more people using vehicles, the continuing growth of industrial areas and various other reasons lead to an increasing amount of smog released into the air. That is why Graviky Labs, a spin-off group of MIT Media Lab, launched Air-Ink last year. This invention converts exhausted gases into ink.

Capturing Air Pollution From Exhausts

The Indian start-up developed the new technology called Kaalink. It is able to turn the air pollution to good account. Major contributors to air pollution are the soot-based gaseous effluents from auto emissions consisting of tiny carbon particles. These particles are about 1/30 the diameter of a human hair, which means that they can get deep into the lung, where they can cause great damage. Therefore, Graviky Labs decided to find a solution allowing not only to reduce, but also to repurpose this carbon soot.

The first prototype of Kaalink was presented in 2013 by the team around Anirudh Sharma, co-founder and director at Graviky Labs. Step-by-step they refined the functionality of this tailpipe retrofit device. Thanks to a chemical process, which removes heavy metals and carcinogens, it is now possible to detoxify the collected pollutants without affecting the engine performance. The result is a dense black ink distilled from purified carbon based pigment. In total, it takes about 45 minutes of car missions to get 30 milliliters of ink.

Fusing Science and Arts to Embellish the Streets of Asia

In 2016, Air-Ink finally started as a real world pilot. In cooperation with the Asian beer brand Tiger the Air-ink project was started in Hong Kong, which is also known for its high air pollution. In the city’s Sheung Wan district artists and environmentalists from all over the world created street art and murals.

After the campaign’s great success Graviky Labs now hopes to expand the production and is negotiating with various government agencies and large automobile manufacturers. Currently, the engineers are working on optimizing the unit, which is in the patent-pending stage and has already been tested on cars, trucks, motorcycles and fishing boats.