A step towards sustainability

Startup saga

A step towards sustainability

Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value.’ This quote by R Buckminster Fuller was the motivating force behind the genesis of ‘Graviky Labs’, a sustainability startup that captures air pollution and recycles it into inks.

“We fuse disciplines, technologies and design thinking to build high-impact deployable systems, products and visions. ‘Graviky’ is a spinoff from MIT Media Lab. Our present focus is to reinterpret the environment conversation through the fusion of science and art and develop technologies which have a net-positive impact on our environment,” says Nikhil, one of the team members in Bengaluru.

He is accompanied by Nitesh, Anirudh and Nisheeth. Explaining the idea of the venture, he says, “Air pollution includes the fine black particles, chiefly composed of carbon, produced by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.

The common trait of soot particles is that they are extremely tiny, about 1/30 the diameter of a human hair. It can travel deep into the lung, where the compounds it consists of can do some serious damage. Our research has been around capturing this soot/ pollution and recycling it to consumer safe inks.”

Scientists predict that the death toll from air pollution will reach 6.6 million by 2050 if action is not taken to reduce emissions.

The startup makes use of their proprietary technology ‘KAALINK’ to capture soot emitted from vehicles. “KAALINK is a contraption retrofitted to the exhaust pipe of vehicles to capture the outgoing pollutants. This does not affect the vehicle or engine performance. Soot collected by ‘KAALINK’ undergoes various proprietary processes to remove heavy metals and carcinogens. The end product is purified carbon-based pigment. In the final stage, the carbon is taken through another chemical process to make different types of inks and paints,” details Nikhil. The various inks created are permanent marker-based inks, whiteboard marker ink, screen printing ink, calligraphy ink and acrylic emulsions.

“We have been experimenting with each stage for the last one-and-a-half years. Each stage had its own challenge, right from figuring the optimum technique for harvesting pollution from vehicles, challenges of operating under different climate conditions with different types of exhaust pipes, removal of heavy metals, dealing with carcinogens and then optimising product mix for the development of a variety of inks,” he states.

‘KAALINK’ can retrofit onto cars, trucks and diesel generators without performance effect on the engines. It stops air pollution/ particulate matter at its source. “Thirty ml ink that we make arrests air pollution equal to approximately 45 minutes of car emissions,” says Nikhil.

‘Graviky Labs’, which is fairly new in the startup space, hopes to make a significant impact in the city and move ahead on the sustainability curve with the expertise of its vibrant team.

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