Content writer -Maria Kuruvilla / Illustrator- Reshma Issac / Animator - Jasan Sangma / ©Sustainability Idea Labs.
If one were to paint a landscape image of rural India, it would probably be dotted with cows, fields and the occasional train. If you have ever travelled by Indian Railways, you may have marvelled over cement chimneys in the middle of nowhere coughing out a magnificent black smoke. The putrid smell is often hard to miss, a commonality in the most deprived, parched landscapes of India. A dark secret that comes with harsh realities. The Building and Construction Industry is the largest consumer of raw materials and I sir responsible for 39% of the total energy-related-carbon emissions according to the World Green Building Council.
In this tale, we travel with Architect Tejas Sidnal whose Carbon Craft Designs has created Carbon Tile, the first of its name made of upcycled carbon by using carbon waste as a resource. Carbon Tiles is addressing and dealing with the climate change issue by using principles of local design and sustainable craft. These tiles are an attempted solution to architects, businesses and end-consumers to engage in climate action through a common building material.
It was in Architecture College that Tejas Sidnal stumbled upon the concept of Biomimicry which is the science of taking inspiration from nature and emulating it into design. His passion also led him to explore sustainable innovative strategies for designing. Today, he directs and runs Breathe- an international visiting school that intersects Biomimicry, Material Science and Design. His vision lies in marrying Technology, Craft and Design to create scalable, sustainable products.
Carbon Craft Design uses a 200-year-old Indian craft to put back carbon soot into the system by creating monochromatic tiles that are equivalent to cleansing 30,000 Litres of air each. It was while researching clean air as Director of Breathe that Tejas found that 39% of global carbon emissions came from the construction and building industry. Their initial journey led to a collaboration with Kaalink founder Anirudh Sharma where the two merged to create a solution to pollution. Tejas Sidnal today continues in pursuit of this dream with his small yet dedicated team.
Carbon Craft Designs tiles use one-fifth of the energy that is usually used to manufacture vitrified tiles. A hydraulic Press helps eliminate the time and excess energy otherwise required and undertaken by common tile manufacturers. Carbon Craft Design today creates an energy-intensive solution that works with factories and producers of black carbon to help put it back within the system. Tejas Sidnal discovered that all the jet-black smoke wreaking havoc in the air was thanks to excessive burning of petrol, fuel and other waste material that was sold by the Pyrolysis factories to cement factories and brick kilns. Carbon Craft Design collect, treat and upcycle this raw material from Tyre Pyrolysis factories.
Tyre Pyrolysis factories are under their radar for the rich amounts of carbon they possess and release. Pyrolysis is a method where industrial material is burned in a controlled setting without oxygen, thus creating carbon. In India, 20 Crore tyres are burned annually generating at least 1,500 tonnes of Carbon. India is home to at least 2,000 such toxic generators which usually burn raw material that coughs out this poisonous black carbon by the hour, dancing its way through chimneys and into our nose and lungs. The carbon waste which is generated from burning these tyres is then sold to brick kilns and cement factories for its high calorific value.
Carbon Craft: The Tiles come in six monochromatic shades; four greys, black and white and fifteen designs. The unique factor here is the traditional handcrafted tile and stencil-making process, an art-form they are trying to revive by balancing the manual and the mechanised method. Grey as a colour is difficult to standardise and most of the compositions differ based on the raw materials used in the process of heating it. Other materials that go into the making of this unique tile are Carbon, Marble Chips, Marble Powder and binding material. However, a lot depends on the type of raw material acquired, how it is burnt, the content of moisture, what fuel has been used to burn it, and various other intricate details often locked within industrial walls.
The stencils used require a 15-day process which is done by their artists in Morbi, Gujarat. The process is one where each part is calibrated and has to be cut with careful precision to a certain angle, which then has to fit the base of the tile perfectly.
While Covid-19 has created several challenges in terms of business and economy, Tejas Sidnal sees a future for his tiles in a market that will slowly be forced to take the environmental way out. His vision, beyond silvery clouds looming with black carbon is to integrate his tiles into mainstream architecture and design for a cleaner India.