CarbonCraft™, a Goa-based startup by Tejas Sidnal, has developed CarbonCraft™ Tile – a first of its kind to be made using upcycled carbon – that aims to prevent carbon emissions at scale through conventional building elements.
Once in a lifetime pandemic has claimed over 2 million lives while air pollution kills 4.2 million people every year. 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India. This is the most important health risk of our time. Among the toxins present in the polluted air, Particulate Matter (PM particles) are the most dangerous. Presently, 9 out of 10 people live in places where air quality exceeds WHO limits.
Air pollution has two problems:
- How to capture or collect carbon?
- What to do with the captured or collected carbon?
It is essential to address both of them to solve the big problem of air pollution completely. From our journey so far, we realised that there are various methods to capture/ collect pollution, but the next big question is what to do with the resulting carbon. Either they have to be burnt or dumped polluting our air, land & water. This directed us to solely focus on the potential and scarcity of carbon utilization solutions as our long term vision.
We have been encountering multiple companies who are addressing the first problem from tyre pyrolysis waste, crop burning, ambient pollution and indoor pollution. Previously we collaborated with one of them to build upcycled carbon products. Our cross collaboration mindset has helped us understand and look for solutions beyond mainstream understanding of air pollution. As we move ahead, we envision to solve air pollution from multiple aspects of industries, geographies, and people. CarbonCraft™ is set out to find alternate ways to upcycle this carbon into new useful forms especially for the building and construction industry. We collaborate with various capture capture/ collection companies to develop higher-grade carbon upcycled products for businesses and end consumers. Through this process, one of the carbon utilisation problems we identified was intriguing and required our immediate intervention.
Causes of air pollution have always been seen from a mainstream point of view which is through exhaust emissions from vehicles, chimneys, and factories. The frightening and apparently invisible problem is that while exhaust emissions have been tightly regulated for many years, waste tyre management is totally unregulated. With the ever-increasing growth and demand for tyres for all types of vehicles especially Electric Vehicles, the result is a humongous accumulation of waste tyres in India and other countries.
There are only two ways to deal with tyre wastes. Open incineration or Pyrolytic degradation. While the former is obviously dangerous and prohibited, the later, pyrolytic degradation of tyres at pyrolysis factories, is considered a safe way to break down tyres to oil, steel wires and tyre pyrolysis waste called recovered carbon black (rCB). 100 million waste tyres are generated in India each year, and there are over 600 registered pyrolysis plants. An estimated
1.5 lakh tonnes of this carbon waste are produced. So far, there has been no repurposing of this material other than burning at cement and bricks kilns as a cheap fuel. This causes particulate matter air pollution around the surrounding areas of the factories leading to poor air quality levels.
Every country has the waste management problem of waste tyres and its recovered carbon waste due to its no alternative-use case other than burning at kilns. We identified this unnoticed burning of recovered carbon waste from tyre pyrolysis as a behemoth problem especially in India which has become a serious environmental issue. In recent years, the Government has taken stringent steps and, in fact, banned a large number of pyrolysis plants to regulate the issue in certain states.
CarbonCraft™ Tile is the first tile to be made with upcycled carbon by using recovered carbon waste as a resource. Since this material is only used to be burnt at cement kilns, we create a positive impact by repurposing this material as a building resource. Thus, we prevent air pollution through CarbonCraft™ Tiles.
Solving this problem of air pollution at scale is deeply instilled in our methodology.
Is Air Pollution only a Technological Challenge? It then dawned on us that it required an Architectural intervention to solve this issue at scale. We connect the volume-based waste management problem with the volume intensive material consuming industry with a larger intent to foster a circular economy in the material supply and consumption.
The building & construction industry is the largest consumer of raw materials and responsible for 39% of total energy-related carbon emissions according to the World Green Building Council. If 1% of this industry consumed the waste rCB as a resource, the impact will be phenomenal and would prevent it from being used as a cheap fuel material.
The annual global tile consumption is about 170+ billion sqft, and India alone consumes 9+ billion sqft. In addition, India is the second-largest producer of ceramic tiles in the world. Tiles have become a necessity for both interior and exterior spaces. So, the scalability of the product is directly proportional to the market consumption. Every sqft of CarbonCraft™ Tile is equivalent to preventing the effect of 25 kgCO2e (according to our calculations based on the GEF report on Black Carbon). An average apartment uses 500 sqft of tiles which can prevent over 12 tCO2e. So, one can imagine the scalability of climate action we can achieve by helping consumers to open up new choices like this.
CarbonCraft™ Tiles are essentially addressing Climate Change issues through local craft and sustainable design principles. These tiles are carbon upcycling solutions for architects, businesses, and end customers to take climate action through a commonly consumed building material. Our tiles are completely handcrafted for interior applications from floors to walls. Our artisans replicate the unique tile patterns that we designed by taking inspiration from various Indian cities and their industries. The end finishes not only decorate the home, office, showroom, or any other interior spaces but also will remain impactful and contemporary.
The world population is very likely to reach 9 billion of us by 2050. This imposes tremendous dependency on the construction sector to accommodate the increasing population. To sustain, it is important for us to shift towards a circular economy.
We are on a path to address Climate Change issues through craft and design. To achieve it – We build products by upcycling carbon.
TEJAS SIDNAL: Founder of CarbonCraft™
Bio: Tejas is an Architect | Biomimetic Designer | Researcher from Mumbai. Having a strong inclination towards Biomimicry he has been researching this field for the past 9 years. His passion lies in exploring sustainable innovative strategies for designing. Breathe is an international visiting school which he directs and runs at the intersection of Biomimicry – Material Science – Design. He has completed his masters from AA School of Architecture, London as a Tata Scholar and has now set up a platform for research – CarbonCraft™, in Goa to experiment challenging work at the intersection of Tech – Craft – Design.