Hyderabad: Aiming to address the issue of plastic waste being generated in the country, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has developed a solar-powered system to convert non-recyclable plastic into fuel. The technology will help convert heaps of non-recyclable plastic waste spotted across the country, to usable fuel oil.
Team Enviro has developed Catalytic Pyrolysis process which is a thermo-chemical process of converting plastic to fuel oil. It makes use of a mobile unit, powered by solar energy, called as ‘Decentralised Mobile Solar Powered Waste Plastic Pyrolysis Unit’. A unit can covert plastics with an efficiency of 50 to 70 per cent (from 1 Kg of plastic -500 to 700 mL of oil) depending on its material characteristics and quality.
The team received Rs 8,00,000 funding to develop the initial working prototype and to experiment/validate the research ideas and a seed funding of Rs 10,00,000 to incubate a start up in Research Park, IIT Madras.
The team was also invited to showcase their product at the United Nations World Environmental Day exhibition held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, on June 5, 2018.
Speaking about the importance of this technology developed by IIT Madras, team mentor Dr Indumathi M. Nambi, Professor, Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (EWRE) Division, Dept. of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, said that non-recyclable plastic is a menace to the society since vendors don’t find value and leave it behind after recovering other material. It becomes economically unviable to ship them to locations where plastic roads are laid and for incineration in cement plants.
“Hence a decentralised pyrolysis unit is the need of the hour as we can install the units nearer to the source or even make it mobile. The product-fuel oil can also be utilised at the source for generators.We are the winners of Innovation Excellence Award with incubation seed funding in Carbon Zero Challenge, a South India renewable energy contest that was conducted by IIT-Madras and Industrial Waste Management Association (IWMA) in collaboration with the U.S. Consulate General Chennai and Polaris,” she said.