The Index Project
Index Award 2017 Finalists
Air-Ink
Turning air pollution into writing ink

In the last few decades, Asia has grown exponentially. But this growth has come at a cost: extensive air pollution. An issue affecting lives, health, and the general economy of countries. Coal emissions in Southeast Asia are projected to triple by 2030, resulting in an increase in pollution-related deaths, and the demand for electricity in Southeast Asia is projected to increase by a staggering 83% between 2011 and 2035 - twice the global average.

Air-Ink is the first ink made entirely out of air pollution. It repurposes pollutants into safe, refillable, high-quality, water resistant markers and screen printing ink. While cheaper carbon black inks are manufactured through the deliberate burning of fossil fuels, Air Ink uses a proprietary device called KAALINK to capture soot that is already being emitted from vehicles. KAALINK is retrofitted to the exhaust pipe of vehicles/generators or the chimneys of factories to capture outgoing pollutants. It takes just 45 minutes worth of vehicular emissions to produce 1 fluid ounce of ink - enough to fill one pen.

By repurposing pollutants into tools for art, ink and markers can be used to draw, write, paint or create anything, making streets more beautiful. And so far, Air-Ink has cleaned approximately 1.6 trillion liters of air in Asia. The technology can go big and inspire communities to adopt and try a new method of ‘recycling’.