Don’t Soot: Recycling Smog Into Artist’s Ink

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Graviky Labs was co-founded by Anirudh Sharma, Nikhil Kaushik, Nisheeth Singh and Nitesh Kadyan (above, left to right) at MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. After initial testing of the concept excited interest among environmentalists and artists, the team embarked upon a program of practical testing in Bangalore and New Delhi – two of India’s most polluted cities.

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Graviky’s researchers discovered that 1 fluid ounce of ink could be created using a mere 45 minutes worth of vehicular emissions captured by Kaalink. By mid-2016, AIR-INK was being tested by a select group of artists including Hong Kong-based muralist Kristopher Ho. “AIR-INK provides an environmentally friendly option for creatives and is high quality,” states Ho. “The ink itself is thicker than most and can paint on rough surfaces without bleeding. The color of the ink is solid black which fits perfectly with my usual practice.”

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Perhaps the greatest challenge faced by Graviky Labs was ensuring that AIR-INK is exceptionally pure and non-toxic. Consider the source: vehicle exhaust is replete with toxic heavy metals and other harmful materials. Researchers were compelled to institute strictly monitored proprietary processes to properly refine the soot collected by Kaalink devices. If the pigment could not satisfy the artists it was designed for, the entire project would come to a standstill. In the end, the team was able to offer its intended customers a purified carbon-rich black pigment that carried the cachet of being environmentally friendly from start to finish.

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