Rudra Environmental Solutions based out of Pune is not only helping to fight the plastic menace but with the help of ThermoCatalytic Depolymerization technology, it is converting plastic into poly fuel. This poly fuel can be used in kerosene burning stoves, boilers, furnaces with lesser carbon footprints.
"Plastic is a versatile product until it becomes waste", said Medha Tadpatrikar the co-founder and director of Rudra Environmental Solution. Rudra works on ThermoCatalytic Depolymerization (TCD) that converts plastic back to its initial form of hydrocarbon in the form of fuel. This conversion is done by a machine that looks like a big pressure cooker. The machine effectively reverses the plastic production process; where the ThermoCatalytic Depolymerization (TCD) process cracks the long chains of polymer to produce useable fuel. The waste plastic; is cleaned and shredded into small pieces before TCD process, to remove contaminants like paper, oil, grease, food particles etc. This is important as it increases the efficiency of the machine and subsequently the quality of the fuel. The reactor is loaded with the shredded plastic and is heated and the catalyst helps in cracking the long chains of polymers in the absence of oxygen to produce hydrocarbon vapours. The plastic is depolymerized at 380 – 430 degree Celsius and the gases are condensed. The condensed vapour produces fuel and synthetic gases. The fuel passes through the filtration system before it's collected. Depolymerisation process is emission-free hence there are no harmful effluents generated in the process. The plastics are collected from different places such as hotels, industries and also other places.
Sharing the journey, Medha said, "This whole journey started with a tragic incident, during our visit to a sanctuary, We came to know that a deer lost his life, due to the consumption of plastic."
She further said, "It is human tendency that we expect others to take initiatives for such cause while we just talk and leave. Therefore, I along with Shirish Phadtare who is also one of the founder of Rudra we started experimenting with plastic. We tried melting it by boiling it but it got stuck to pan, then we researched and tried using a pressure cooker, by removing its whistle and using the steam. After a lot of experiments , we were successful in converting the plastic in to fuels"
Plastic is available in different forms like tins, containers, boxes, and polybags and most of it can be recycled. However, the issues arise with the thin plastic bags as it is used in large numbers and it is not easy to recycle them. Tadpatrikar said, " Even if people segregate the wastes, many times when it gets collected it gets mixed and gets dumped in landfill where it will stay anywhere between 450 to 1000 years. The thin plastic can be dumped in river which ends up in our ocean. Pollution of waterways is already a major concern. The plastic in landfill causes soil pollution.
Rudra is also working on converting these polybags to poly fuel. Tadpatrikar said, "TCD is beneficial as the plant can process plastic waste that is not easily recyclable including wrappers, other thin plastic and residual plastic waste material from businesses and households. This results in a diversion of waste plastic from the landfill and products fuel with a lower carbon footprint. The fuel produced is used directly as a source for burning without any need for further Processing."
Rudra has also tied up with Keshav Sita Trust and with this collaboration, they collect plastic waste from all over Pune. They have collected more than 1500 MT of plastic and reduced over 90, 00 000 kg of carbon emission, this fuel is used for kerosene burning stoves, boilers, furnaces, incinerator, burner etc. This fuel is supplied by the Rudra's to the rural areas where it is used by them in generators or stoves.
Rudra environmental solutions have found an amazing way of utilizing plastic. Their story reflects that it is all about the will to work for environmental issues and there will be millions of ways to make it possible.
Written by: Selvi Pareek