This incredible mural was made from car exhaust. Yes, really.

Anirudh Sharma remembers the air pollution growing up in India — he just didn't remember it being so bad.

When he took a trip home in 2013, while on break as a student at MIT's Media Lab, the difference in air quality between India and Boston couldn't have been starker.

A street in New Delhi in 2013. Photo by Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images.


“It was a very simple observation — I feel like anybody can see it," Sharma says of the pollution's effects in his home country. "Your clothes get dirtier much faster, you can see this pigmentation happening [on] buildings, to your clothes, to everywhere around you."

Sharma found himself wondering: Is there any way to put this awful black gunk to good use? He realized how similar the soot was to the black ink in your standard ballpoint pen, and the comparison prompted him to begin digging deeper.

Inspired by what he saw on his trip, Sharma and fellow co-founder Nikhil Kaushik launched Graviky Labs.

Sharma (far left), Kaushik (middle left), and the rest of the Graviky Labs team. Photo courtesy of Graviky Labs.

The team is the mastermind behind Air-Ink — an ink that's made from the dirty black pollution emitted from vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Graviky Labs.

As you can imagine, it takes a few steps to go from air pollution to black ink that's safe for anyone to use.

First, Sharma and his team came up with what they dubbed a "Kaalink" — a device that connects with a vehicle's exhaust pipe to collect soot and pollutants that would otherwise be jetting out into the open air while the engine is running.

Photo courtesy of Graviky Labs.

Graviky Labs then takes the soot and pollutants and removes harmful or unnecessary materials — like metals and carcinogens — so all that's left is a carbon rich pigment that can be made into various inks and paints.

As of now, Air-Ink is available in various sizes of markers, as well as a printing ink set — and the process of making them is smart for a few reasons.

Photo courtesy of Graviky Labs.

The obvious positive aspect to Air-Ink is that it prevents pollutants from getting into the atmosphere, keeping our air healthier to breathe. But it also curbs our reliance on conventional ink-making methods that rely on the deliberate burning of fossil fuels to get the job done, Graviky Labs notes.

“We are trying to not only capture pollution and recycle pollution," Kaushik explains, but they're also ensuring less carbon is being emitted from other ink-making sources.

In other words, it's a win-win.

Of course, it also helps that the ink can produce some pretty incredible works of art.

Photo courtesy of Graviky Labs.

Right now, Air-Ink is only available through a Kickstarter campaign, which is aiming to expand Graviky Labs' operations.

Through funds raised online, Sharma's team is planning to also create oil-based, fabric, and outdoor paints. And from the looks of it, Air-Ink is on the right track to success.

With three weeks still left to go of the campaign, Graviky Labs' Kickstarter has already surpassed its initial fundraising goal of nearly $10,000.

"It feels great,” co-founder Kaushik says of the campaign's success thus far. “We have heard from a lot of people that they want to use it."

Air-Ink won't solve the world's air pollution problems in the long-term. But it's the right type of idea the world needs now.

Most eco-friendly innovations combating climate change and curbing pollution are expensive "replacement" technologies — such as electric cars replacing gas-powered ones — and other things that take longer to go mainstream economically, according to Kaushik. Over the next few years, however, it'll be crucial that we develop less expensive adaptations that can be applied to current technologies (even those as basic as ink production) that will help make the planet greener in the meantime. That's where innovations like Air-Ink come in.

“This is something that can help," Kaushik says. "But it has to be part of a bigger system where other technologies and other innovations pitch in."

Learn more about Air-Ink by watching the video below:

Heroes
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular