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Pollution makes ink for artists

Posted on 22 November 2016.

An Indian startup has invented the first pollution based ink. And in Hong Kong, Tiger Beer has made it available to urban artists and so is promoting more environmentally friendly art.

A 30 ml pen contains as the pollution created by 40 minutes of diesel engine use.

Air pollution is a major twenty-first century issue: a recent WHO study states that 92% of the world’s population is breathing polluted air. Among the most affected areas, Asia takes the top spot. Fortunately, people are beginning to mobilize – where you least expect it!

For example, in June 2016 Tiger Beer - the iconic Singapore-based beer brand - launched a surprising operation: to provide street artists with pollution based ink.

An innovative particulate trap

The brewer partnered with the Indian startup Graviky Labs – which spent three years designing particulate trap technology. The system attaches to the exhaust pipes of vehicles (cars, scooters, boats, etc.) or can be fitted on factory chimneys. It recovers 95% of the pollution (CO2, soot, carbon, etc.) released when the fuel burns.

The carbon is then separated from the carcinogenic substances and heavy metals, before being combined with vegetable oils. The mixture produces perfect quality ink, similar to that found commercially - and most importantly harmless to health!

The liquid - called Air-Ink – is then put into pens, paint cans and aerosols. Graviky Labs claims that a 30 ml pen contains the equivalent of the pollution created by 40 minutes of diesel engine use.

In the hands of artists

In June 2016, Tiger Beer launched a huge campaign on the streets of Hong Kong. Nine local artists were invited to use Air-Ink to create gigantic urban frescos. 150 liters of ink were used - the equivalent of 2,500 hours of carbon emissions.

The aim of the exercise was not only to raise awareness about the issue of air pollution but also to offer artists a new material that would mean they could create environmentally friendly art. An innovation that is particularly popular in China where ink has always had tremendous symbolic value.

These products are currently purely for artistic performances. Graviky Labs would nevertheless like to get them on the market quickly.

We hope they do - then innovation will continue putting lots of ink on paper !