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Kaala Soot Printer – turning dirt into gold


It’s amazing what creative minds can dream up. But, as Walt Disney said, “if you can dream it, you can do it.” And scientist / inventor Anirudh Sharma, a graduate of the MIT Media Lab, has been working to do what some would say is either crazy or impossible – turn soot, some of the worst air pollution, into usable ink for printers and copy machines.


The idea for the Kaala soot printer device (kaala means black) was conceived of during a trip to Sharma’s native country of India, where heavy smog and soot are an everyday occurrence. Inspired, he built a demo device that pulls soot from a burning candle and accumulates it into a modified syringe. This is then used to fill a modified HP inkjet cartridge, which combines a mixture of commonplace things such as soot, vodka, and olive oil. When the cartridge is integrated with an Arduino ink shield, this very low-tech ink can be used to print at a 96 dpi resolution.

There are still hurdles to face before this product can scale up and enter the marketplace. Sharma admits the ink could be blacker and still needs to pass toxicity standards. But he feels that with some work, it could compete well against the printing ink HP sells. This is definitely an exciting innovation and one way that cities with smog-clogged air begin to turn the tide on pollution.?

Debra Atlas is a freelance environmental writer and eco-enthusiast based in Northern California, and is the Red Ferret’s Ecological Editor. Debra looks for the upside of eco-change – what’s positive, making a difference. She hunts down those interesting things cooked up by creative minds, especially if they’re strange and eccentric.

Debra Atlas – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.

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