A Mumbai-based start-up has created a floor tile made from carbon to help decrease the city’s high rate of air pollution.
The level of air pollution in Mumbai, India, has been equated to smoking four cigarettes a day. Start-up Carbon Craft Design has a solution to help the city.
The start-up collects carbon from factories, which would usually be released into the atmosphere, and mixes it to create a solid floor tile.
CleanTech News interviewed founder, Tejas Sidnal.
How did your startup begin?
While reading about the environment, it became evident that the construction industry was such a huge contributing factor to air pollution. It is responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions, but no one was looking at it from the architectural lens. As an architect by profession, it became more like a moral duty to tackle this issue at scale through architectural intervention. This led to the formation of Carbon Craft Design, a Mumbai based design and material innovation startup building architectural and interior products by upcycling air pollution. In January 2020, we launched Carbon Tile, the first tile to be made with air pollution. We’re into carbon offsetting solutions for architects, businesses and end customers and addressing Climate Change issues, through craft and design.
How do you make your tiles?
Carbon from factories is taken and mixed with our ingredients, then made into a slurry and compressed into a tile. Carbon Tile employs a handcrafted tile-making technique which requires only one-fifth of the energy consumed by the conventional tiles. This is a 200-year-old handcrafting technique, that started as a means to upcycle waste marble pieces, by the then-marble polishers, to provide higher quality surface finishes at affordable prices.
How much carbon does one Carbon Craft Tile absorb?
We communicate our impact in terms of litres of air prevented from getting polluted, as it is wise to share our carbon value after the third party LCA certification, which we are in currently in talks with. Our entire exercise is to prevent pollution from happening in the first place. One square foot of Carbon Tile is equivalent to preventing 30,000 litres of air from being polluted. A house can easily accommodate 100 sqft of tiles. That will be mitigating 3 million litres of air pollution. Carbon Tile is going to be the first carbon-negative tile in the market based on our calculations.
Air pollution is a serious health issue in Mumbai – can you tell us about its impact on your daily life?
Breathing Mumbai’s air is equivalent to smoking four cigarettes a day! That is based on the average PM2.5 level. The impact of it is not felt by the general population, as it is intangible and ignored during daily life, but it has a proven long term impact on us. The stats on growing respiratory illness in urban cities over the last decades are quite self-explanatory. But, we also noticed that there was a surge in self-awareness on protecting oneself from day-to-day exposures, even before COVID, when wearing a mask was unnecessary.
What is the government doing to help improve air quality in the city?
Though in an early stage, many independent groups in India are making this information open to the people. As a country, you could see the investments that are going into wind and solar. As a city, we wish for more open discussions from the regional governing bodies to incentivise and harvest the local talent and skills to improve the situation.
What do customers say?
We received and catered to multiple orders in India, within a few months of our launch. Also, we are swamped with enquiries from in and out of India. COVID has definitely affected us in terms of sales pace but it has also helped us gain potential customers. Architects are our major customers who feel that they now have an off-the-shelf-tool for climate action, that they can make through their work. We are happy to see the growing trend of conscious consumers in India.
What’s next for CarbonCraft?
We are moving towards making a more affordable range of Carbon Tiles for wider implementation with distribution models in mind. We have developed an IP around Carbon Tile; we think this could be used to develop a lot of other building materials and other lifestyle and interior décor products as well.
I think what this journey has taught me, is the fact that we, as architects, are responsible for a lot of the problems out there. We are all talking about climate change today, but I felt I wasn’t aware of a lot of the damage I am doing, just by not knowing technical knowledge around the use of materials.
Each building material has a carbon emission associated to it and I feel we as architects should be aware of these and be held responsible for our contribution. Carbon Craft Design’s vision is to upcycle as much carbon emissions as possible and eventually build an entire building made out of carbon emissions using various technologies!