Graviky Labs is transforming the microscopic particulate matter (known as PM2.5) in machinery exhaust resulting from burning fossil fuels – what we might call soot – into black ink. Whether from cars and trucks or generators and factories, what would have been inhaled by millions or contaminated water and soil, can now be used for drawing and printing. As the Graviky Labs website states, "Our vision is to arrest the urban PM air pollution in a way that it doesn't reach our lungs or waste streams." The goal is "to confine and bind that captured pollution into high grade inks that everyone can use and express themselves with through art or writing."
Carbon black, a byproduct of the incomplete burning of petroleum products, is normally used to produce ink, as well as being a component in rubber, paints and plastics. Rather than burn new fossil fuels for ink production, Sharma and his colleagues wanted to create ink from vehicle and machinery exhaust already being produced, thereby also reducing particulate matter in the air from these sources.
A 2013 experiment with candle soot and an improvised printer cartridge led to a lab setup in India in 2015, where pollution restrictions are not as strict as the U.S., allowing for easier particulate capture and more effective testing.
The trial and error of attaching strange equipment to cars in Bangalore for capturing PM2.5 produced KAALINK, a small device that can be retrofitted to exhaust pipes. This electrical and mechanical device can capture 95 percent of PM2.5 in the exhaust without any adverse effect on engine performance.
One 30 milliliter pen is the equivalent of 45 minutes of diesel pollution.