Our cities are increasingly burdened with air pollution, especially many megacities in Asia. It leads to 3.7 million premature deaths every year and this rate will most likely rise with increasing urbanization. There is, however, the possibility to turn air pollution into something more than smog.
The Indian startup Graviky Labs turns air pollution into ink. Why have we not thought of this before, you might ask. It seems like a simple, yet game-changing solution. A contraption is attached to the tailpipes of cars, boats and other exhaust ports of carbon dioxide producing factories. The emitted carbon is collected and turned into ink in the lab. AIR-INK, the official name of the product, can be used for printers, markers and spray paints — the latter literally enabling people to take air pollution from the streets onto walls. One marker usually contains the air pollution which is committed by a standard diesel-powered car during a 45-minute drive.
During the previous year, the products were handed to graphic artists in Hong Kong in an attempt to raise awareness on air pollution by letting them paint murals in the city. The project has raised more than 17,000 US dollars on Kickstarter and enabled the startup to release oil-based paints and fabric paints as well.
Air Ink is not the only project which turns something as ugly as air pollution into art; or something that can be appreciated more than city smog. Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde created a vacuum cleaner for cities. The Smog Free Tower, which can be found in China’s capital city, uses smoke-free ion technology to clean the air and provides the people in it’s surrounding with the experience of breathing clean air in a city that is normally burdened with smog.
Roosegaarde and his team also up-cycle the collected particles and handcraft them into rings, cufflinks and cubes. Every purchase of one of the items automatically donates 1,000 m3 of clean air. The project represents Roosegaarde’s vision of a clean future, with citizens contribute to solving the problem, not only to causing it in the first place.