India to soon get fuel from plastic

India will soon be able to convert its plastic wastes into high-grade petrol and diesel, thanks to a breakthrough by researchers at Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum.

The IIP, a constituent lab of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, has for the first time in the country developed a technology to convert plastic waste into petroleum products. Such a technology is so far available only in Germany, Japan and the US while Australia and the UK are still working on it.

plasticpyrolysisplantThe technology converts plastic into gasoline, diesel or aromatics through the use of a combination of suitable catalysts. It will also produce LPG as a common by-product. According to IIP Director M.O. Garg, the fuels obtained (gasoline and diesel) through the process employed in the technology meet Euro-III standards and are of ultra high-quality.

With almost nil sulphur con-tent, the diesel obtained through the process is said to be of high quality. It will lead to vastly reduced emissions from engines, officials said. An engine run on this fuel will enable a vehicle to run for at least two km more per litre than ordinary diesel.

“We have applied for a patent. We developed this after nearly a decade of intensive research. We are now planning to commercialise the technology although we are still engaged in the process of engineering to design heavy machinery and processes, Garg told Mail Today.

“The current prices of petrol, which is derived from crude hydrocarbons, range between ` 70 to ` 80 per litre. Petrol in this case costs ` 30 to ` 40 per litre, inclusive of the cost of plant, operations, manpower and and cost,” Garg said. “There is a mammoth amount of solid waste generated in the country. It could be procured at a minuscule cost.”

The fuel is said to be ideal for captive users like the state road transport corporations, the defence establishment and railways. In the absence of effective implementation and enforcement of Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules of 1989, the handling of plastic waste continues to be a major challenge in the country. The technology, if commercially implemented, will considerably address India’s rising problem of hazardous plastic waste.

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