Plastic menace is a huge environmental hazard for the planet. As the dependency on plastic is increasing, plastic waste is piling up in the landfills especially in India. To address this grave issue of disposing plastic responsibly, Nilesh Inamdar, founder of 'Patpert Teknow' saw these landfills as treasure and is converting non-recycled plastic into new products such as oil and fuel.
Patpert Teknow system Pvt. Ltd., a startup based out of Pune uses a proprietary chemical reaction to convert non-recycled plastic into fuel that is sustainable and eco-friendly too.
It is a known fact that plastic is extensively used in various packagings. However, not all of them are recycled and they end up in the landfills. However, Patpert, with the help of technology and innovation is successfully converting plastics to fuel. The innovation could generate the local source of income for neighbourhoods in parts of the world where trash has already evolved as a threat and littered a large source of marine.
Such projects utilize the chemical energy present in the hydrocarbon structure of the material to create fuel, a technique praised for its economic and environmental privileges. Now, these strategies are beginning to capture the market as they are the need of the hour.
Why we should turn plastic to fuel ?
Estimates indicate that less than 5 per cent of the plastic generated each year is recycled, whereas an increase of 3.8 per cent every year in the production of new materials is noticed, adding to the 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic yielded since the production began.
"The alarming increase in the percentage of plastic is terrifying, and I eternally wondered what the alternative would be. Plastic is practically made from crude oil, so I decided to reverse the process and to obtain fuel from it," said Nilesh in a conversation with The EarthView.
Nilesh also explained why plastics are having an intrinsic value as a fuel source."Plastics are the output of processed feedstocks(crude oil) in industries. The hydrocarbons that build up plastics are the great source of energy that is embodied in the material, making plastics a form of the powerhouse, which can be turned into a liquid fuel source," he said.
Further, he added, "Another conceivable environmental advantage of plastics-derived fuels is that they can provide a cleaner-burning fuel, due to the low sulphur content of plastics. Several developing nations nowadays use diesel with a fairly high sulphur content that leads to degradation of the environment."
The Journey of this innovation:
This chemical engineering graduate initiated a waste management company in 2013, with the primary objective to spread awareness on waste segregation. Gradually, with their hard work and dedication, they came up with better ways to manage plastic waste.
"There is the implementation of the three-step engineering process which is called plastic pyrolysis. From the process, we convert plastics back to their native form – where, first of all, plastic is indirectly heated in a vacuum environment and accordingly goes through the procedure of depolymerization, gasification, and finally, condensation. Thus, we get the final product in the form of oil," explains Nilesh.
The collected plastic waste is shredded into small pieces and dumped into a reactor via an airlock feeding system. Later on, a catalyst is added and plastic is heated at a higher temperature of 150 degrees. Thereafter, the pyrolysis reactor transforms the polymer waste into pyrolysis oil, hydrocarbon gas, and carbon black powder. The gases that are emitted such as methane and propane are stored in a different gas tank. And the oil obtained is filtered, stored, and prepared for dispatch. This method is efficient to approximately produce 600 to 650 litres of fuel with a single batch of plastic. The organization collects plastic trash from nearly 36 huge industries from around the nation and local farmers.
“Pyrolysis oil can be used as an alternative to the oil used in making roads and in any factory setup where heat and electricity need to be produced. Pyrolysis technique works as a sustainable waste-to-energy process that can sustain most kinds of plastic waste including single-use plastics,” says Nilesh.
The entire technique is eco-friendly as there is no discharge or zero effluents left after completion of the process. "The fuel received from the conversion of plastic is entirely environment friendly due to the absence of any harmful entities. Apart from manufacturing oil, this technology also guarantees that urban and rural areas become plastic-free, as instead of dumping in the landfill and degrading the environment, now it can be converted to fuel, " Nilesh says explaining the benefits of pyrolysis.
Nilesh also mentioned that the journey for the startup was not free from challenges. He said, "During the initial days, this startup faced huge negativity and criticism. No one was ready to support me and discarded my idea saying, a boy of the new era."
He further said, "So, no contract was signed with any company for many months. Also, the output largely relies on the quality and homogeneity of the feedstock, so different types of plastics were needed to be segregated, or else it would alter the result and products."
Entering the Market:
“Currently we work extensively in Pune and have installed our several plants nationwide. Today, with 6 years of hands-on experience, the company is in the process of developing a vast client base that uses pyrolysis oil. Companies like Hindustan Petroleum, Infosys, and Tata are working with us to achieve sustainable plastic management," said Nilesh.
Now, the company has also started converting Tyre and Agro waste to oil with the help of 'Pyrolysis' and 'Gasification process'. The company aims to create a sustainable environment by depolymerizing the trash of plastics as much as possible.
Currently, 2500kg/day waste plastic is processed in a single plant. And, 1250lit of oil is produced. "Total of 25 units set up in Pune, Surat, Rajkot, Vasai, etc. are working day by day to achieve the goal of the corporation, 'To become the globally renowned organisation in the field of sustainable energy solution through innovative engineering applications and services, " said Nilesh.
Nilesh Inamdar is also looking forward to tying up with multinational companies based out of Europe. "Our plans were welcomed and accepted by the organization on an international platform and soon we will be working with them with a mission of eradicating plastic waste, " Nilesh exclaims with a smile as he signs off.
Written by: Manoj Khetan