According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 98% of large cities in low to middle-income countries exceeded healthy air guidelines (compared to 56% of cities in high-income countries). Cities across Asia, mostly due to overcrowding, seem to have the highest carbon emission levels and fortunately for city dwellers, there’s been an uptick in consumer tech devices designed to combat air pollution.
Asia’s Air Pollution Problem
Whether it’s Daan Roosegaarde’s 23-foot (7m) air-purifying tower set to embark on a world tour starting in Beijing, China or a recent device by Gravinky Labs that turns car exhaust into high-quality ink, socially-responsible innovators are turning their attention to fighting harmful carbon emissions.
The Kaalink Device
Gravinky Labs, an MIT Media Lab spinoff, has created a device called Kaalink. Designed to fit on the end of an automobile’s exhaust pipe, Kaalink “filters and captures unburned carbon emitted by incomplete engine combustion,” according to LiveScience. “Our device is designed as a clever fusion of electronic sensors, mechanical actuators, and a collection system,” according to company co-founder Anirudh Sharma.
“It takes just 45 minutes worth of vehicular emissions captured by Kaalink to produce one fluid ounce of ink – enough to fill one of the AIR-INK pens.”
The AIR-INK System
Sharma’s Kaalink device is more than just a carbon emission trapper – it harnesses pollutants and transforms them into high-quality printing ink. Taking approximately 45 minutes to produce one fluid ounce of ink, the Kaalink device can endure two weeks of steady city driving before needing to empty its harmful pollutants. “Currently, our collection mechanism involves emptying the units at our own garage,” Sharma said. Once drivers exchange their full Kaalink device for an empty attachment, the collected carbon goes into Gravinky’s proprietary AIR-INK system.
“Kaalink can capture up to 93% of the emitted pollution from standard internal combustion engines.”
Purified Carbon that Makes Ink
AIR-INK is the machine that turns Kaalink’s collected pollutants into water resistant markers and screen printing ink. According to the company’s Kickstarter campaign, “AIR-INK is made out of air pollution particulate matter – namely the unburned carbon soot you see coming out of the exhaust pipe of cars, chimneys, generators, and more.” After ridding the soot of heavy metals and harmful carcinogens, what is left behind is “a purified carbon-rich pigment.”
Gravinky’s Kickstarter Campaign
With the hope of one day expanding to trucks, chimneys, and generators, the Kaalink device will create enough ink to create a large-scale operation. Already available as 2mm, 15mm, 30mm, and 50mm markers and a 150ml screen printing ink set, Gravinky’s Kickstarter campaign is more than halfway to its $9,873 goal.