In the words of Graviky Labs, the group behind the pollution based paint
“Over the last 150 years, mankind has depended on burning fossil fuels directly or indirectly for their energy needs. Soot is the major byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels.” Researchers from around the have observed over the years that many premature deaths are directly related to toxic soot in the urban environment. Particle exposure leads to around 20,000 premature deaths in America each year. Many of these deaths were caused by soot-related diseases. Data also show that soot annually causes almost 300,000 asthma attacks and 2 million lost workdays due to respiratory problems. This is why the challenge of designing a pollution based paint s both noble and potentially lucrative.
One of the big thinkers behind this technology is Anirudh Sharma
He has come up with a way to harvest black smoke—the kind you see billowing out of chimneys and from car mufflers—and repurpose it into printer ink. “The pigmentation of that blackened smoke is actually unburned carbon released from incomplete combustion,” or soot, he says. “If you capture that carbon and take it through a very simple chemical process, you can make really high-quality raw material that is important to printing and ink industries.”
The black, powdery substance left behind by the after the carcinogens and impurities are removed is what Sharma calls “black gold.” Mixed with a bit of alcohol and oil, it can turn into a cheaper alternative to traditional ink. You can see the process in video below how they convert pollution into paint.
It all started from a group at MIT’s Media Lab
Originally labeled Kaalink, the project started as a research experiment at MIT, where Sharma studied. He and other members of team at Graviky Labs, a spinoff of MIT Media Lab, are partnering with companies like Tiger Beer to take their product worldwide. Here’s the process: Handheld devices will be attached to cars to capture the carbon. For every six miles the car travels, enough carbon is produced to generate two cartridges of ink.
“We are cleaning the environment by not releasing the carbon that would otherwise enter into the lungs of people,” he says. “Then that [carbon] becomes financially viable, because whatever [is captured] can be repurposed and sold to [use in] newspapers, print magazines, T-shirts.”
Video coming soon…