Hold the floor! These tiles feature swirls of trapped carbon
Talk about stamping down pollution. The Goa-based start-up Carbon Craft Design is making floor tiles that feature swirls of carbon trapped in concrete.
The carbon black comes from a process used to break down used tyres. Normally it would have been released into the air, adding to the pollution. Carbon Craft Design (CCD) works with the tyre processing plants to capture recovered carbon black, and then works with craftsmen in Gujarat to incorporate it into tile patterns.
Tejas Sidnal, 32, founder of CCD, is an architect and biomimetic designer and researcher, which means he studies ways to recreate nature’s solutions to looming problems such as pollution (or, in other cases, water management, food scarcities, etc).
“About 200 million tyres are discarded every year in India. Each tyre is 30% to 40% carbon black,” Sidnal says. “With the right degree of heat, a tyre can be reduced to steel, recovered carbon black, and a kind of fuel called pyrolysis oil. This carbon black and oil are typically disposed of by burning, releasing polluting carbon emissions into the atmosphere.”
CCD uses the recovered carbon black to create its monochrome tiles, available with patterns in black, white and four shades of grey. They were first made in collaboration with the US-based Air Ink in 2019. But that process used carbon emissions and could not provide the volumes CCD needed to scale up, so the two companies went their separate ways. It then took about a year for CCD to research how else they could extract larger amounts of recovered carbon, and eventually they hit upon the used-tyre processing plants.
Users of CCD’s tiles so far include Manan Gala, an architect with Mumbai-based Bombay Contractors. Gala sourced the tiles in December as part of his plans to renovate his home. “I was intrigued,” Gala says. “Construction material has a big carbon footprint. So the fact that these tiles are robust, suit an Indian environment, are aesthetically pleasing and are made using recovered carbon black made me want to experience them first-hand.”
Sidnal, meanwhile, is now trying to raise funds for the research and development of what he calls a Reverse Chimney Pavilion, a funnel-like contraption that he hopes will absorb polluted air, purify it and release it back in the atmosphere.
“We need at least ₹1 crore for R&D and to build the chimney,” Sidnal says. “It’s challenging to raise this kind of funding, especially given that businesses have suffered due to Covid. But we believe architectural intervention is needed to address air pollution, and we don’t intend to give up on that.”
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