Mission Read Me: Air-Synth

Fig.1. Air-Synth Prototype v1 - Jaipur, India, November 2022


Air-Synth aims to democratize carbon removal, conversion and utilization through the open source development of a modular, low-cost electrocatalysis device that can be hacked and built by community members anywhere. As of December 2022, this is an early stage OpenAir mission seeking to enlist a diverse range of support and contribution from members to get it to launch.

Mission Team

  • Anirudh Sharma (@zwanderer)- Mission Co-Founder and Moderator
  • Ajay Saini, PhD - Technical Lead, Electrocatalysis
  • Alex Ose (@alexose) - Carbon Hacker
  • Michael DeMaesschalck - Carbon Hacker

Community Links

Learning Links

Objectives and Design Principles

  • Develop modular, ease of manufacturing, DIY, open catalyst recipes
  • Use only free and open source software toolchains (e.g., open source CAD packages such as OpenSCAD, FreeCAD, or Blender) and open hardware for device fabrication.
  • Attempt to minimize the number and type of parts and the complexity of the tools. Minimize the amount of material and the cost of production.
  • Maximize the use of components that can be distributed or digitally manufactured by using widespread and accessible tools such as the open source RepRap 3D printer. Create parametric designs with predesigned components, which enable others to customize AIR-SYNTH design.
  • By making parametric designs rather than solving a specific case, all future cases can also be solved while enabling future users to alter the core variables to make AIR-SYNTH useful for them.
  • All components that are not easily and economically fabricated with existing open hardware equipment in a distributed fashion should be chosen from off-the-shelf parts that are readily available throughout the world.
  • Validate the design for the targeted function(s). Meticulously document the design, manufacture, assembly, calibration, and operation of the device. This should include the raw source of the design, not just the files used for production.
  • Share design files in a universal type. Include a fully detailed bill of materials, including prices and sourcing information. Include many photos so that nothing is obscured, and they can be used as a reference while manufacturing. In the methods section, the entire manufacturing process must be detailed to act as instructions for users to replicate the design. Share online and specify a license.

Mission History

Fig. 2 - Air-Synth module prototype (l) and basic component diagram (r)

In 2020 the founding team, made up of a diverse crew of product designers, engineers and hackers based in various parts of India, started working on the core concept: the electroreduction of CO2 into ethanol or other products on a desktop scale. They started with the basic idea of using copper-based catalyst in membrane electrode assembly (MEA) started with a zero-gap electrolyser (1 cm2). Following discussions and hands-on experiments in both Jaipur and the UK the team added the integration of micro direct air capture to the project scope, and also began exploring potential conversion of CO2 into useful chemicals.

In November 2020, project lead Anirudh Sharma made first contact with OpenAir, and discussions of an open source community-based mission, supported by the collective, began. COVID halted progress, but the concept continued to evolve through these conversations. Two years, and many tests and conversations later, Air-Synth was officially missionized in November 2022 with the immediate objective of validating prior experimental results through university-based partnerships.