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A team at IIT-Madras has designed a Solar-powered device to produce furnace oil from plastic waste

Posted By : Abhijeet Singh   |   Date : May 28 2021 9:11 AM

A team at IIT-Madras has designed a Solar-powered device to produce furnace oil from plastic waste

Samudhyoga Waste Chakra, a start-up, propelled by a team of researchers from IIT-Madras, has developed a unique solar-powered device that can turn plastic waste into useful furnace oil.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India’s Plastic Waste generation capacity has surged to an alarming 3.3 million MT per year in 2019.

With such a humongous plastic waste generation capacity in place, it is inevitable to expect the capacity to turn at least 3-fold shortly.

For effectively limit the ever-increasing mountains of plastic waste, technology must be built that can either recycle or dispose of these large amounts of plastic waste in an environmentally friendly manner. With this goal in mind, a group of women scientists from IIT Madras, all of whom were professors, post-docs, or research scholars, including civil engineering professor Indumathi M Nambi, competed in the Carbon Zero Challenge in 2017 to pitch their business idea for reducing plastic waste.

Eventually, with collaborative effort and teamwork, all researchers decided to come under the hood of Samudhyoga Waste Chakra, a startup which now is being incubated at the IIT Madras’s incubation cell, and is aimed to divert around 250 KGs of plastic waste from entering the landfill every day, using a decentralized solar-powered pyrolysis technology, for which patent is yet to be granted.

Samudhyoga Waste Chakra is now headed up by various IIT Madras postdoctoral and doctoral researchers and Sriram Narasimhan

Sriram stated that over the last two years, the technology has been optimized to ensure the highest possible plastic waste processing ability at any given time. He added that the device can also process PPE kits, which are now of the greatest importance for disposal.

Talking about the operation of pyrolysis, Sriram demonstrated that, in the presence of a catalyst, waste plastic is first heated to 400°C. The process degrades the plastic, ultimately transforming it to usable furnace oil, a high-energy hydrocarbon liquid that is comparable to diesel.

Sriram claims that if it's scaled up, the technology will be able to run at different locations for different types of plastics at the same time to ensure that the diesel-like oil is generated optimally. 

The first unit will be deployed at a Greater Chennai Corporation location soon. We're also in talks with Mumbai and Pune companies about putting this device in multiple locations Sriram added.

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