Ink made of air pollution | Anirudh Sharma

Translator: Maricene Crus
Reviewer: Cihan Ekmekçi Every year, more than four
to five million people die due to exposure to outdoor air pollution around the world. This petri dish that you are looking at contains approximately
20 minutes’ worth of pollution captured off a pyrolysis plant. This is PM 2.5. These particles —
you can see it right now, but when they’re out there
in the air, you won’t see them. These are so tiny that our lungs — our bodies cannot filter them,
and they end up in our bodies — give us asthma and lung cancer
if not treated in the right time. On a trip back to India,
when I was a student in 2012, I took this picture. This picture stuck in my head. On one side, you see this exhaust
of a diesel generator, the same generator
which is a sign of human progress, which is a sign of rapid industrialization and what we have become
as a society in the last 100 years, generating energy. But on the other side, you see this very interesting
triangular, black-colored swatch, that is produced by the same
residual particulate waste created by the emissions of the generator. Now, this picture gave me an idea and got me thinking about rethinking
both pollution and inks, because it was making
that black-colored mark. Now, the reality is that most of the black
ink that we use conventionally is traditionally produced by conventionally burning
fossil fuels in factories. There are factories around the world
that are burning fossil fuels to produce carbon black, to make black inks that we use
on an everyday basis. But given that millions
of liters of fossil fuels are already being burned out there by our cars, our engines
and our exhaust out there, what if you could capture that pollution and use it to recycle and make those inks? I decided to give this experiment a shot. I went back to my lab back in Boston
and conducted a small experiment. In Boston, I couldn’t find
much pollution to play with, so I resorted to using a candle. This was an experiment. I burnt a candle, built this contraption
that would suck in that candle soot, mixed it with some
vegetable oil and vodka, because to a DIY hacker,
these were really easily available. (Laughter) And after mixing them, you could churn out
a very rudimentary form of ink that would go into a cartridge, and now you could print with it. This was my “Hello, World!”
of experimenting with printing with pollution. This is the same pollution
that I showed you in the petri dish, which is the result of any fossil fuel
that is being burned out there. In 2015, I decided to take
this experimentation forward and set up a lab in India to work on the capture and recycling
of air pollution. In the good times, the lab
used to look something like this. But experimentations
were not always controlled, and disasters happened. And while experimentation would happen, the lab would end up
looking something like this. Well, we knew where we wanted to go, but we were not sure
how exactly to reach there. The passersby who used to go
by that lab through that building used to, at times, think,
“These guys are making bombs in there,” because there was too much fire,
wires and smoke in the same vicinity. (Laughter) We decided, let’s move to a garage
and take experiments forward. We took a garage,
and during the early stages, we were driving around Bangalore
with contraptions like these. This is an early-stage prototype. Imagine the looks people gave us, “What are these cars
driving around doing?” This is an early-stage prototype
of our system that would capture pollution that is being released from
a conventional diesel-based car. This is an early stage of the technology. We advanced the technology
and created this into this version that would capture pollution
from static sources of pollution, like a diesel generator. If you see, all the fumes disappear
as soon as you turn this machine on. Without affecting
the performance of the engine, we are able to capture
95 percent worth of pollution released from the diesel generator. This is the particulate matter
that we are talking about that we capture, in this case, within three to four hours
of operation of a generator. And while our experiments
and our research was advancing, a very big company, a very big brand,
approached us and said, “We want to take this idea
further with you guys, and take this further
in a very big celebrated form.” They said, “Let’s do a global art campaign with the inks that you are making
off this pollution.” I’ll show you what the ink looks like. So, this pen is made by recycling
40 to 50 minutes of that car pollution that we are talking about, the same pollution
that is in the petri dish. And it’s a very sharp black
that you can write with. So I’m going to write … PM 2.5, that’s incorrect. So this is a very sharp black
that is generated by the same pollution. After much work on the lab-level research, we got an offer from a big corporation
to do a very big trial of this idea. And it happened to be a brand,
and we didn’t think twice. We said, “Let’s go ahead.” Inventing in the lab is one thing and taking ideas and deploying them
in the real world is completely another. During early stages, we had to resort to using
our own houses and own kitchens as our ink-making factories, and our own bedrooms and living rooms as the first assembly line
for making these inks. This is my cofounder Nikhil’s own bedroom, that is being used to supply inks
to artists all around the world, who would paint with AIR-INK. And that’s him, delivering
AIR-INKs to the ports so that the artists
around the world can use it. Soon, we started seeing that thousands of artists around the world
started using AIR-INK, and artworks started emerging like this. Soon, thousands of black-and-white,
pollution-made artworks started emerging on a global scale. And believe me, for a group
of scientists and engineers and inventors, there was nothing more satisfying
than that the product of their work is now being used by some
of the finest artists around the world. This is the cover of “Contagious”
magazine last year, that was done by using the same ink
that we made back in our labs. This is a famous painting
by the British artist, Christian Furr, who painted it for the song
“Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones. Now, there’s more to this pen and this ink than just the popular
and pop-culture artworks. And now our goal is to create a company that can actually make some black money —
I mean, just money — (Laughter) and high-quality printing
processes and inks that can replace
the conventional black inks that have been produced for the last
thousands of years around the world. Soon after our growing popularity
and artworks around the world, we started facing a very different
kind of a problem. We started getting spammed by polluters, who would send us bags full of pollution
to our office address, asking us, “What can we do
with this pollution?” Our lab back in Bombay right now
has pollution samples that have come from London,
from India, from China, you name it. And this is just the beginning. This polluter sent us
this specific image, asking us that these are all bags
filled with PM 2.5, and can we recycle it for him
if we paid him some money. Well, what would he have done
if we did not take that pollution? He would probably find a nearby river
or a landfill and dump it over there. But now, because we had the economics
of AIR-INK figured out on the other side, we could incentivize him to give us
this pollution and make inks from it, and turn it into even
more valuable products. Now, pollution, as we all know,
is a global killer. We can’t claim that our ink
will solve the world’s pollution problem. But it does show what can be done if you look at this problem
slightly differently. Look at this T-shirt
I’m holding right now. This is made from the same
AIR-INK I’m talking about. It’s made from the same pollution
that is inside this petri dish. And the same pollution we are all
breathing in when we are walking outdoors. And we are on our way
to do better than this. Thank you very much. (Applause)


  • Ein Max

    Lul i wanted to this since i am 12. Not realy ink, more chemistry involved. Like collecting the CO2, Split it in Ordnung and C and then make for example Carbon Out of C

  • thai nguyenthe

    I want to talk English with someone to improve my skill, i speak English basically, can someone help me?

  • Khairara kai

    Mari kita beramal untuk mewujudkan lautan ilmu pengetahuan kepada anak-anak yang kurang mampu.. Bantu donasi dengan klik

  • catherine


  • Christian Ball

    Who makes that white shirt he's wearing? fly and comfty!

  • Don Carlo

    Simply genius, bravo!

  • Shanmugam A

    Congratulations guyes for your excellent work to protect environment hazards Thank you Jyo.

  • MAN45

    Way to go, Anirudh boss! ECB represent.

  • Vivek Viswanath

    All the best brother😊 hoping to buy these pens in retail shops soon

  • Shannon Sisk

    This is neat.

  • Francis Lai

    Genius, with the price of ink being more than gold this guy could make a fortune if only he figured out how to make toner from pollution as well.

  • Nadir


  • Nadir

    please someone who is the artist at 6 minuets 30 seconds doing a painting of the Rolling Stones


    DAMNNNN I really got this idea esrlier this day and saw this vid on notification

  • Tyler Bowers

    good idea, but a very inefficient way to make ink.

  • krishnachai chaiporn

    Very good idea. What is the fate of the ink after use ?

  • From Here

    This is what real "SUPERHEROS" are like. 👍

  • Darshan Suthar


  • Levi Satwik

    Well, What's the cost of one pen? 🤔

  • Bionik1980

    For the T-shirt concept, wouldn't you be wearing the pollution and bit by bit inhaling it/ absorbing to your body? Interesting concept but more pollution then anybody can write with.

  • Ashween Mankash

    Very good.

  • Akhil Kumar Nayak

    Great job 👏👏

  • Rahul Rajkarnikar


  • Daksha Giri


  • trex70

    Put a heat exchanger into your contraption and you will be able to generate energie as well

  • Bara'ah Sinjab

    this is awe-inspiring!!!! I would sponsor if I could

  • Nathan Saldana

    You mean to tell me these people want to take concentrate pollution, and make books with it?? How would that effect the paper? Or our bodies??

  • Nathan Saldana

    Wtf is " I'll write PM2.5, no,thats incorrect" supposed to mean??

  • youxkio

    Good! Now we are in a good way. We use carbon to make ink for pencils and pens, and graphene for batteries… wow the world is really changing

  • youxkio

    India, you are in the vanguard or recycling and reusing… I believe in You! You are the future of the World.

  • Shamim Reza

    This program is very useful to learn English

  • Salmán Khan

    This would be an innovation of the century.

  • Lunareon

    It's always great to see new ideas for recycling waste, especially when said waste is causing health problems if left unattended. 🙂

  • Frills Jane7

    This is a genius invention, i say

  • KalKyuLayTor


  • Abhinav Jha

    WOW, I would love to buy a few for printing my designs. Hope you sell them in India with reasonable price.

  • ozgur demirhan

    Mimar Sinan did this implementing an interval ventilation system for the candle smokes in a mosque he built for about 450 years ago.

  • Ngân Vũ

    What a wonderful innovation! I hope this one can be fastly wide-spread.

  • Miriam Asofsky


  • satish garg

    That was super amazing

  • Arthur Marcuss

    I hope the pen's body is recyclable plastic..

  • Chaitanya Kardale

    They might synthesize differnt colours from it ???

  • Sri Charan

    Honestly bro!!!! This is one of the best solutions against the pollution but with the pollution 👏👏👏
    Wonderful Idea…. Please don't stop your work…. It saves many lives on earth!!!

  • Nick McDonald

    Never stop dreaming kids!

  • Major Gnuisance

    My predictions before watching the video:
    – It's going to be worse than the alternative as an ink
    – It's going to have a pollution footprint two orders of magnitude larger than the captured pollution it's made out of
    – It's going to be a lot more toxic
    – It's going to be three orders of magnitude more expensive as the alternative in production costs
    – It's going to have an unfeasibly small maximum theoretical production output
    – Despite all that, people are going to love it and lap it up for being "environmentally friendly", as usual.

    How did I do?

  • Alpha Strength

    I always have thought we can do something good from air poluttion

  • Sue G


  • Rahman Rahman

    Great work!!! Good Luck!!! Happy to help.

  • Linfamy

    Hmm… why didn't I think of this

  • Hannah Beth

    This is great recycling and smart resourcing. It helping the world become more efficient. I support this. It’s really cool.

  • Eduardo Arzate

    Toxic Cancerous Ink

  • Paritosh Mehta

    I want to join your company!

  • nmsjeat

    Really nice innovation! However, is there a risk the ink will "fall off" and make you breath more of it?

  • Apiwat Chantawibul

    I'm skeptical of this. There is already concern that "carbon black" ink is carcinogenic. So, what precaution is made to make sure the captured pollution isn't going back to being harmful? For example by flanking/rubbing off the writing surface.

  • Elmer Vibar

    This is a really world changing invention.

  • prasanthvictor m1

    Is the ink non-toxic to be used by everyone??

  • Erell G

    it is truly fascinating!

  • WallaJen

    It would be helpful to learn what environmental benefits there are when the particles are captured vs not captured. Is doing this making any measurable improvement?

    Would the ink produced contain carcinogens or other harmful elements? Does it “fix” to a page or does it run if it gets wet? How safe would it be on clothing? The safety factor of the recycled product should be disclosed.

  • Student Of Class 9

    Proud to be indian


    Any quantity of it can be sold to the tire manufacturers. Quality doesn't matter. They need quantity. Now they are buying 99% of the production of the nearby facility. Only the finest particles are used for printing toners. It would be great if this near-by facility disappears and stops its operation. It is one of the BIGgest local sources of pollution!

  • Invox

    When you make a business that uses polution, this does not help to REDUCE polution.

  • Johan Kou

    actually op

  • carochan86

    The guy wants to take the ink out of the air , put in on paper and have us inhale the poison fragments .

  • carochan86

    They could use this in coal gasification plants. They already use filters so just change them to these filters instead.

  • Charushi Jain

    Fantastic Idea😍 Sustainable …

  • William Byrnes

    You can make whit cement concrete out of iron slag , waste product .
    One of natures way of storing carbon is trees, we use lumber in construction. We use iron in construction.
    Air carbon i beams , waste product😯 space race is on🍀🐱‍🏍

  • William Byrnes

    Great idea
    but sad to think we have to come with solutions for problems that we should have got rid of by now.

  • BruceMan BatWayne

    One question, is it safe to touch over long periods of time as one would do if it were on their clothing or book?

  • Hazel Zhang


  • busra temel

    This is perfect…

  • your ghost

    Loveee this

  • Imdad Ali

    That really means a true planet healer.

  • faiza ahmed

    Wow amazing work! This is really a great step towards change

  • Chandir

    Where can I buy this ink? Or even shirts I don't care I just want to support this

  • Noah Noah

    Oh my god, earth saving thing

  • Tonmoy Deka

    How can i help.u sir
    If i want to supply the carbon to you


    great job

  • R Rana


  • ScoutiverTTV

    I rather watch this than someone tellinge me there is nothing wrong with being obese

  • Fat Mexican

    Algorithm where you at?!!

  • Rilakkumaple

    Hi I need help guys, I just wanted to know how to make a soot collector , I want to try this in our car. Thank you guys huhu

  • allison macal

    I like him

  • Sonu kumari

    Superb idea. Feeling gr8 to see having a man representing india in front of the whole world.
    Can we know how the technology works basicly

  • Suman Besra

    This is very usefull device.

  • Suman Besra

    It is eco friend.

  • NAB Nellor android boys

    Where can I buy it

  • Vaibhavi Charniya

    how can we buy this pen??

  • reem.

    That’s a good idea but it doesn’t make the ink spreading pollution too?

  • kefsound

    Wishful thinking and greenwashing are powerful forces.

  • Gaurav Joshi

    Made in India 😙🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳

  • simanta's creation

    Our India is best 😍😊

  • Pushmod Metange

    How much mesh is this Powder?

  • Pushmod Metange

    I want those bags I can recycle it

  • Batul Poonawala

    Brilliant!! Very Innovative!! Please use this idea in Delhi. The most polluted city in India. My uncle suffering from asthma lives there can't step out of the house without pollution mask.
    This idea can be very profitable in the polluted city and save the future generation!!!

  • deva vinothini priya


  • Nityanshi C

    This is brilliant ! India should totally use this tech!!! I wish you the very best and hope this revolutionizes our world ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

  • Black Robot

    This absolute bogus, why? Because I was working with him on this project. Every word came out of his mouth is 100% lies. Don't believe me? Well write them on their email Id and ask them what happen between their co-founders, I was one of them, and ALSO ASK WHAT HAPPEN WITH VAULT VCs? How did they get sued for forging lies?

  • Raghavendra Deepak Dupuguntala

    Please message me on 9886317956 for your indoor airpurifier 😃 we are delivering all over India. There is indoor airpurifier for car variant.

  • Nature Murali

    Save nature stop pollution avoid plastic disposal things
    Subscribe naturemurali channel

  • Revienstein

    You really got my respect man, really proud of you and your thinking 🌚


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