Air Ink, when ink is made using cars emissions

Feb 20, 2017 | written by:

All calligraphy lovers will certainly appreciate this new tool to create magical handwriting on paper. But, they will be bewitch not by the pen’s conformation or by the nib, but by the particular ink contained in it obtained… from the emission of the cars. Yes, they will write with the smog!

Anirudh Sharma, Nikhil Kaushik and Nitesh Kadyan, three researchers of MIT –  the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – created this trend reflecting on how to use the gas black coming from exhaust pipes that poison every day the atmosphere. They called it Air Ink and it is made using particulate, those substances suspended in the air, pollutants, caused by internal combustion engines, but also from the emissions of domestic heating, from the residues of the road surface and from tobacco smoke. And because of their origin, it is easy to understand that there is plenty to be used.

To obtain such an ink, a device, called Kaalink, it’s attached to the exhaust pipes of vehicles and generators. Here the smog is collected and subsequently processed to remove heavy metals and carcinogens elements. So, Kaalink allows cleaner and less harmful emissions on one hand and gives to the 'black' a second life on the other one. At the end of this refining process, the smut becomes a purified carbon pigment that, like coal, it can be used to create paints and inks.

Air Ink is a deep black with an extremely high quality and is water resistant. One of the pens produced with this ink can contain a 2mm, 15mm, 30mm or 50mm round and costs $25. When the ink runs out, it will serve 'only' 45 minutes of car emissions to charge the pen. Certainly, this is one of the cheaper carbon black based inks ever made with the deliberate burning of fossil fuels. Moreover, unlike the others available on the market, Air Ink trapping carbon black already emitted from vehicles without creating new ones. 

The line currently consists of screen printing ink, pens and markers of various sizes and is available on the virtual shelves of the funding platform Kickstarter. What’s the next goal of the three young researchers of MIT? Being able to use the smog as ink for office printers. And of course, in addition to portfolios, even our lungs will gain.


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