AIR–INK®

This design file is a work in progress. We welcome contributions, corrections, and updates. Read Collecting Design (Digitally) at M21D to learn more about our approach to collecting design.

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  • Creators:  AIR–INK® is a proprietary brand founded by Graviky Labs, a spin-off group of MIT Media Lab. 

  • Materials and methods: Carbon emissions produced from from industrial pollution

  • Environment:

    • Carbon footprint: Strong claim to be carbon-negative  

    • Energy: More research needed on energy required for processing and distribution 

  • Labor: Graviky Lab employees, including managers, researchers, and engineers. Graviky also works directly with the employees of the factories (from undisclosed industries) where they source emissions. More research into working conditions and wage standards for direct and indirect employees needed.

  • Equality: (research ongoing)

  • Access: Current price information unavailable. AIR–INK® markers were previously available for sale for $22-$30. More research needed into industry access to patented processes used.

  • Life-cycle assessment: More research needs to be done into what happens to AIR-INK when it enters recycling or waste disposal systems.

In 2015, Anirudh Sharma co-founded Graviky Labs and began experimenting with ways of making ink from “upcycled carbon emissions”, captured and recycled from the streets of Bangalore, India. The result, AIR-INK®, is a black ink that actually sequesters carbon through its production.

According to the World Health Organisation, 91% of the world’s population lives in conditions that exceed their guidelines for air pollution, with the consequence that 4.2 million people around the world die per year as a result of poor air quality. Black ink made using petroleum-dependent processes accounts for 40 to 60 percent of all industrial printing, which contributes to our global air-pollution crisis. Sharma conceived of AIR–INK® as a way to radically rethink pollution and inks together.  

The process used to produce AIR-INK® converts carbon dioxide from the fine particulate matter expelled into the atmosphere in factory exhaust fumes. The company collaborates with factories in various (and undisclosed) sectors to “harvest” solid carbon from their emissions, using a patented filtering device and technique called Kaalink. Derived from the Hindi word “kaala” meaning black, this steel cylinder affixes to any source, and collects pollution directly from the air in the form of soot; which is filtered of heavy metals and toxins, and hydrated into usable carbon for AIR–INK® products.

The resulting water-resistant, industry-compliant black ink offers a fossil-free alternative to other commercial black inks, which can be used in existing production lines. Graviky Labs claim that one 200ml refill of AIR–INK® sequesters the equivalent of approximately 830 minutes of diesel car pollution. According to the company, more than 10,000 individuals and entities use AIR–INK® products to reduce their carbon footprint. 

AIR-INK® comes in a variety of forms, suitable for both large-scale industrial and individual purposes: from packaging inks to writing instruments. However, the unavailability of current pricing information makes the affordability of AIR-INK® hard to ascertain. In addition, research shows that Graviky exclusively holds the rights to the production process behind AIR-INK®. These factors raise important questions about the privatization and commercialization of climate solutions. 

As an industry supplier, a case can be made that AIR–INK® effectively supports other businesses to achieve their goals to become more environmentally sound. This integrated and systems-led approach makes AIR–INK® a strong candidate for induction into the M21D Design Study Collection. We are looking further into work and labor conditions in the production process, as well as the wider accessibility of AIR–INK® products and processes.