Tag Archives: Arduino InkShield

Turning air pollution into printer ink with Arduino

This Maker has discovered a way to repurpose soot into ink for printers.

Black printing ink, commonly found in printers and copy machines, is one of the most consumed products throughout the world. And although it may be quite the cash cow for some companies, one Maker believes that we can make it easily enough using soot found in the air of our polluted cities.


MIT Media Lab graduate Anirudh Sharma — who some may recall from his Arduino LilyPad-based hepatic shoe for the blind — says that his invention, if scaled, can offer a much cheaper alternative to the exorbitant costs of ordinary ink.

“This is not an attempt to win over the pollution. Just a minor itch that led me to build something cool from observations arising from nostalgia of the days back in India,” Sharma explains. “There’s so much soot/pollution around us, especially in crowded cities. What if the same could be repurposed to generate ink for printers?”

And so, the Maker created Kaala — a device that can suck up harmful pollutants from the surrounding air, separate the carbon black, and instantly repurpose it into printer ink with the help of alcohol and oil. This liquid can then be injected into any ordinary HP C6602 printer cartridge for regular use. It’s important to note that, in order for the system to work, it first needs to be exposed to exhaust.


In the video below, you will see that Sharma employed a lit candle and its flame to show off Kaala. The demonstrated device’s pump catches the soot from the burning candle, which is then used to fill a modified HP inkjet cartridge with a mixture of vodka and a little olive oil. For printing, the Maker coupled presumably an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) with Nicholas C Lewis’ Arduino InkShield, which enabled him to print at a 96dpi resolution.

Looking ahead, Sharma intends on improving the soot collector. He plans to suck the soot through a chamber that uses capacitive plates to filter out the carbon from dust in the air. This principle is commonly exercised by chimneys to reduce the carbon particles injected into the atmosphere.