This Mumbai based startup makes handcrafted tiles from carbon emissions.
Toxicity of Current Times
Air. Water. Blood. Carbon. These are the elements that most of the living beings are made of. Of late, the natural balances are being disturbed by excessive extraction and pollution by humans. According to WHO, air pollution is a severe problem that results in 7 million deaths annually. It largely remains invisible, unlike plastic or water pollution. But it becomes starkly visible when the AQI spikes occur and we see the murky skies. Metro cities like Delhi get converted into Gas Chambers and we breathe the poisonous mix that we see in front of us.
92% of humans live in places where air quality exceeds the WHO safe limit. – WHO
It will take time, collective effort and perseverance to change the gloomy picture. Despite the advancement in technologies, cleaner manufacturing processes, etc. emissions are still on the rise. Thus, innovative solutions that can be seamlessly integrated into our daily life are the need of the hour. And that’s what Mumbai based Carbon Craft Design has done. Established in 2019 by Tejas Sidnal, the startup has developed Carbon Tile: World’s first tile from Carbon Emissions.
New Twist to the Tile
Construction and real estate expansion are necessary for accommodating the rising population and standard of living. But it is also a gigantic source of pollutants like dust, smoke and fossil fuel emissions. According to the World Green Building Council, the building and construction industry is responsible for 39% of total energy-related carbon emissions.
Tejas is an architect, researcher and innovator who had been researching sustainable solutions for pollution. He was heavily inspired by Biomimetics i.e. using natural elements, processes and systems for solving complex human problems. He amalgamated Biomimicry and Design thinking to give a new twist to the ubiquitous tiles.
Tejas and his team experimented with various carbon emission based mixtures that were derived from Pyrolysis based factories. After rigorous R&D spanning over 2 years, they came up with a functional product i.e. Carbon Tile. The tiles are entirely handcrafted. Cement and marble derivatives are added to particulate matter to create the tiles. They have passed the tests that are applicable for conventional tiles.
Problems Due to Pyrolysis
To control air pollution, there are a plethora of devices like Air Filters, Scrubbers, Electrostatic Precipitator, etc. that capture the pollutants and emissions in factories.
Another significant source of air pollution is the recycling of rubber tyres. Pyrolysis is the process of heating the substance at a high temperature in the absence of oxygen that results in chemical decomposition. Pyrolysis of tyres yields various by-products like low-grade oils, Pyrolysis gas, recovered carbon black etc. They are mostly used as a low cost but polluting fuel in cement factories and brick kilns. The residue is dumped in the open.
Thus, it was the usage part where the team focused their attention, as large amounts of pollutants were being captured and collected but not used properly thereafter. This was a critical part of the upcycling of Carbon Emissions for high utility products.
Carbon Craft partners with factories having high emissions to upcycle their toxic Carbon Emissions.
Craft Against Climate Change
Apart from addressing the pollution pandemic, Carbon Craft also employs artisans thus ensuring a stable livelihood for them. This helps to preserve a dying art form and provide splendid design patterns for the products. It uses a method of tile production that dates back 200 years. Moreover, this process utilises less energy compared to producing modern Ceramic Tiles. Thus sticking true to its name, the team uses Craft as a solution to Carbon Emissions and Climate Change.
The Downs and Ups
Being the pioneer in a field comes with its fair share of challenges. While the conventional tile has a lead time (from production to installation) of 10 days, the lead time for Carbon Tile is about 45 days. Due to the input being collected from various factories, obtaining standardised colours is a difficult task, especially in the case of black. This is because the material mixture can never be the same for two batches.
The manufacturing process is capital intensive and thus the tiles are priced on the higher side of the price range. Behavioural change for adoption has been rather slow. People need to be convinced that it’s completely safe to use such tiles in the home or office areas.
Despite the odds, things have been moving in the right direction. They’re in talks with Adidas to install Carbon Tiles across showrooms in India. The team is planning to scale up and decrease the price of the tiles. Also, it’s researching for more offerings like Lifestyle products, flooring, etc.
Tejas believes that sustainable solutions should be seamlessly integrable in existing processes to achieve scale. We do not have to reinvent the wheel or revamp the processes to achieve sustainability. Carbon Tile meets that criteria as it can be manufactured and crafted using minimal infrastructure.
Thus, multifaceted innovation built on design thinking and collaborations can address a plethora of interlinked issues that humans face. Solid expertise built on thorough research with an interdisciplinary approach can help us design a better and balanced future.
Article by Subhav Duggal, Team ulaunch