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Building Homes Out of Thin Air

Carbon Craft Design

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

Carbon Craft Design is a design and material innovation company that aims to address the challenges of air pollution. It uses biomimicry to upcycle waste carbon and create carbon-negative building materials mainly - tiles.

The company largely focuses on combating the issue of climate change by helping build sustainable cities, it mainly impacts the following UN SDGs: 9-Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure, 11-Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12-Responsible Consumption and Production, 13-Climate Action.

Authors

Prabhakar Govekar

Prabhakar Govekar

Ankit Arpan Mohanty

Ankit Arpan Mohanty

Priyal Garg

Priyal Garg

Krishna Nauhwar

Krishna Nauhwar

School

Goa Institute of Management

Goa Institute of Management

Professor

Divya Singhal

Divya Singhal

Innovation

India produces about 150,000 tons of tire waste, which is burned in the cement/brick-making industries after separating steel from it. Carbon Craft Design cuts in-between this process and collects the carbon black by-product and uses it as a raw material for their tiles. This carbon black is then further analyzed and mixed with other building materials to a degree that does not reduce the usability/strength of the tiles that are produced using this mixture.

Its founder Mr. Sidnal believes in having systems that are inspired by nature, having a closed-loop, that doesn't produce waste. This provides two choices: how to capture carbon black and once captured what to do with it in an environmentally sustainable fashion. The company focuses mainly on the later part that is to align huge volumes of carbon black production with the consumer construction materials. Though the company experimented with multiple products like a façad or bricks, it did not see mass production due to the cost-effectiveness of already existing products in this segment. The company decided to focus on cost-effective tile production with their learnings from prior projects.

The production of all carbon tiles is made to order, upon securing an order following production flow is followed to produce the tiles. A crucial point to be noted here, the process does not involve baking or any other form of heat application, this reduces the carbon footprint.

“.... Carbon black when burned really creates air pollution, so one of the various factories is tire industries India today recycles about 100 million tires each year, each factory has about 10 tons of waste carbon that comes out of these factories every day. 10 Tons is 10,000 KGs! What happens to this? It is then sent to factories where it is used as cheap fuel and is burnt. So instead of it being burned or dumped into the soil, we use this as raw material so that it prevents air pollution…” Founder Mr. Sidnal believes that instead of waiting until black carbon has been burnt and then captured and then later processed, a much smarter and more effective way is to stop it from being used as fuel altogether.

The process:

  1. MIXING - Carbon Black is added to the standard cement mixture used for producing tiles. Further to this mixture water is added to make a slurry.
  2. LAYERING - First layer is made of the slurry using stencils, this layer is the front face of the tile. Second layer is made of dry mixture is added on top of the first one, this layer is for strengthening the tile.
  3. PRESSING - The assembly of slurry and dry second layer is firmed up using hydraulic press.
  4. CURING - Firmed up tiles are aged by soaking in water for 30 days.

Building Homes Out of Thin Air

Inspiration

Tejal Sidnal, the founder of Carbon Crafts Design, is an architect by profession who stumbled upon biomimicry as a strategy for design in his second year. Sidnal was excited about this field and more the more learned about it he realized how we can build systems which are more relevant to real-world scenarios. He completed his thesis on biomimicry from the Biomimicry Institute of Mumbai.

His idea was to solve the air pollution problem from an architectural perspective. “We had clean air, clean water, clean food, and the more you build, the more you are polluting so can you reduce that?” The journey started with the fact that you can build carbon negative buildings, which do not emit while its operations, and also the materials that are used are carbon negative. “But if one can’t have carbon-negative products how can a carbon-negative building be built?” This is what prompted work on building carbon-negative products.

During the interview, we got to understand the ideology of the company. They believe in asking the right questions because if you won’t ask the right questions and properly define your problems, how will you go about solving them. In the process, they realized air pollution causes two major challenges, how do you capture it and what do you do with it. The company works with partners who capture that or work with factories that have waste carbon to manufacture their products.


Overall impact

Air pollution causes 1 in 9 deaths. It is the most important environmental health risk of our time. Around 91% of the world’s population live in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits. Due to its invisible nature, it is extremely difficult to ascertain the severity of the problem. Carbon Craft Design aims to solve this problem using architectural intervention to create a carbon-negative product that would use this waste carbon which would have otherwise been burnt or dumped, polluting the atmosphere. This has directed the company to solely focus on the potential and scarcity of carbon utilization solutions as their long-term vision. Carbon Craft Design has set out to find alternate ways to upcycle this carbon into new useful forms, especially for the building and construction industry.

Business benefit

Carbon Craft Design makes use of the science of biomimicry to create a unique and innovative form of capturing carbon in order to reduce air pollution. They have developed a 3-stage process to upcycle rCB (recovered carbon black) which creates a positive climate impact by repurposing this material as a building resource.

COLLECT – Here the company captures/collects carbon through companies like tyre pyrolysis factories and others to source the recovered carbon. The material is then analyzed and acted further to develop higher-grade carbon upcycled products.

PROCESS - The physical and chemical properties of the recovered carbon is analyzed and is processed to make it application-oriented at their facility in Karnataka. It is fused with a mixture of binder and reinforcement materials to build the carbon-negative products.

BUILD – The company has been prototyping and experimenting with various ideas to build a carbon-negative product under the umbrella of the building material industry. The journey has helped the company develop the first building material made with upcycled carbon.

Social and environmental benefit

Carbon Craft Design's primary focus on the issue of air pollution and making use of carbon at large. An estimated 1.5 tons of this carbon waste are produced. This waste is only burnt at cement kilns since there is no alternative-use case. This causes particulate matter air pollution. Carbon Craft has identified this burning of rCB as a behemoth problem especially in India which has become a serious environmental issue.

Their innovation of using tiles has had a historical significance in decorative spaces and artistic exhibitions. With the present-day context, we designed Carbon Tiles to use their significance in commercializing environmental solutions. This is at the intersection of Craft, Design, and Technology with the sole aim of building scalable solutions. Using a single Carbon Tile is equivalent to preventing - 5 kgCO2e. Carbon Craft design is inspired by the power of humanity to create a better future for future generations.

Interview

Tejas Sidnal, Founder

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Carbon Craft Design

Carbon Craft Design

Mumbai, IN

Business Website: https://www.carboncraftdesign.com

Year Founded: 2016

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Carbon Craft design is a Mumbai-based design and material innovation company founded in the year 2016. It is a group of Architects and Engineers developing carbon upcycling products for the world's construction demands to mitigate air pollution at a large scale.