"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" goes a popular optimistic phrase on the internet, that implies turning something sour or difficult into something positive or desirable.

In the same context, Indian architect Tejas Sidnal, is harnessing black carbon extracted from the country's notoriously polluted air, to upcycle them into building material.

When Sidnal found out that India's Brick kilns, the world's second largest brick producer contributed to 20 percent of black carbon emissions globally, he was confident that the construction industry could "do better".

Hence, he started Carbon Craft Design in 2019 - a startup that extracts black carbon from polluted air and upcycles them into stylish, handcrafted building tiles.

Carbon Craft Design partnered with Graviky Labs, an Indian company that uses a filter device to capture carbon soot from diesel exhaust and fossil fuel generators, then removes contaminants such as heavy metals and dust from the soot, before giving the purified carbon to the former in powder form.

Carbon Craft Design then mixes the captured carbon with cement and marble waste from quarries to produce monochromatic tiles.

According to Sidnal, each tile comprises at least 70 percent waste material, and sells it to architects and retailers at a higher price compared to the usual ceramic tiles.

However, as the company ramps up production, it subsequently aims to reduce the tiles prices, as Sidnal puts it: "sustainability is not only for the elite."

For context, Graviky Labs previously created "Air Ink" - a technology that captures carbon soot from cars and factories, and converts it into ink and paint.

More than a year after its launching, Carbon Craft Design's tiles have adorned the walls and floors of global fashion brands and architecture firms in India, including the Adidas store in Mumbai. Sidnal said that the company has been "swamped" with inquires from in and out of India, as the company mulls spreading its wings into Europe this year.

According to CNN, India's 21 cities make the list of the world's 30 most polluted cities, and its toxic air kills more than a million people annually.

India's polluted air contains dangerously highly levels of a fine particulate matter known as PM2.5, which has been known to cause lung and heart disease and can impair cognitive and immune functions. It is worth mentioning that New Delhi declared a public health emergency in 2019 after suffering record levels of smog.

Source: CNN
Photo source: CNN