Dr. Medha Tadpatrikar, the founder of Rudra Environment Solution, recycling and converting plastic into fuel with waste, plastic includes bottles, bags, food wrappers. Rudra Environmental Solutions is operating a thin-film plastic waste recovery facility in Pune, Maharashtra. Rudra is ready to make good use of the 8 billion tonnes of plastic waste the world dumps in landfills and oceans.
Most of us agree that plastic should ban as soon as possible. But if you think from another perspective, plastic is one of the brilliant products in today’s world. Due to plastic bags, our shopping becomes lighter; another use of plastic is in solar panels and windmills; also, most of the parts of vehicles are made from plastic. Most of the parts of airplanes are also made from plastic due to their lightweight property. So if plastic is such an extraordinary product, why does everyone think that plastic should be banned?
As we see… everything we use is turned to waste and increasing the use of products will ultimately increase the waste disposal problem. It is much easier to throw something on the roadside. However, when it comes to plastic, there is no way to dispose of it. It will remain on earth for a minimum of 40-50 thousand years. Then why don’t we think of converting it into something useful? like making fuel from plastic waste?
In the last 40 years, we used 8000 billion metric tons of plastic which have become waste. Out of that, 80% is either in our landfills or in oceans. What happens with plastic is that plastic leaches lots of chemicals like bisphenol, dioxins, phthalates, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, lead, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals. which unfertilized our soil and affects marine life if we release it into oceans. It harms humans by causing cancer-like disease; also, plastic can cause miscarriages and some respiratory problems too.
All of us have to look at plastic differently. We have to look at waste differently, but the question comes how?
Because that is when people will come in with different ideas to solve plastic problems, some scientists have discovered a way to decompose the plastic, but it is an expensive method. Many people knew the harmfulness of plastic but always thought that taking care of waste is somebody else’s problem until we witnessed the 2009 incident. The incident where some deer died in the national sanctuary due to the plastic in their stomach. It not only changed our lives, but it also gave us focus. Said, Dr. Medha
Plastic is a nightmare in our modernized world. It takes hundreds of years to degrade and decompose, but it is hard to imagine life without it. Rudra Environmental Solutions, a young company in Pune, dares to consider converting this non-degradable plastic waste into fuel. Dr. Medha Tadpatrikar will teach you how to make fuel from plastic waste
How does Dr. Medha Tadpatrikar recycling and converting plastic waste into fuel?
It all started with melted ice cubes. “My dad had just three ice cubes in his drink, and the host put four in. Then he took out the bucket and put it on the plate. My husband Shirish and I attended the party. I wondered if the water would freeze and turn into ice, and the ice would turn into water. What about plastic?’ Medha Tadpatrikar says.
A month ago, two friends were on a wildlife tour and could not take pictures because some of the deer in the sanctuary died, and the cause of death was plastic in the stomach. The deaths of deers significantly impacted Chartered Accountants Shirish and Medha, who did Ph.D in management science. “We don’t know what to do, but we had to do something with plastic anyway,” says Medha. Then an ice bucket incident occurred, and the incident pushed two of them into the kitchen for an experiment.
They picked up a plastic bag and heated it in a frying pan. Nothing happened. Then they tried it in a pressure cooker. All that remained was some residue.
They met with some petrochemical engineers to learn what plastics are and how it was derived. After various trials and hardships, they attached a pipe instead of putting the whistle in a pot. “When I heated the plastic, I found black debris on the pipe soaked in a glass of water. It burned when I turned on the power. “
A friend invited to this experiment told them that the smell from the pot was methane. After two years and several experiments, Medha and Shirish achieved a jackpot. “I realized that reversing the plastic manufacturing process yielded two materials, one was this poly fuel that could be used for ignition and combustion, but the black powder that came out of it was carbon black. “
Plastic waste into fuel
However, what about burning plastic and polluting the environment? Medha said: ‘Yes, a certain amount of gas is produced in the process. It is methane.” So to solve this, Dr. Medha and her team built a machine in 2013 they built a machine that uses the emitting gas as an energy source itself. Thermo catalytic depolymerization process. It is a simple process that converts plastic into a mixture of monomers. Rudra reuses it to boot the device. There are also sulfur oxides (SOX) and nitric oxide (NOX), but these are minimal compared to traditional fuel methods. The SOX produced is 0.017 ppm but is usually 0.8 ppm. Therefore, it is minimal. Carbon black will be transferred to the municipality and added to the bitumen road. “
The exact recovery ratios change according to the plastic, but we can usually get from 1 ton. Around 650 to 750 liters of fuel and some gas and 50% residue, which can be used with Bitumen to lay down the roads. This fuel can be used directly in generator furnace burners as a kerosene stove. – Dr. Medha
So basically, Dr. Medha and her team added the fourth r to the waste management, ie. Recovery from the waste. Rudra started working a few years ago and today it recycles 22 tonnes of plastic from 15,000 households in Pune. In just over a year, 4 tonnes of plastic were collected from Thane and Dombivali near Mumbai and 3.4 tonnes from Baramati. There are plans to move to all subways. “But we realized that we couldn’t be everywhere. We are now selling patented equipment to non-governmental organizations and some companies in Hyderabad, Gujarat, Ratnagiri, and Mumbai,” says Dr. Medha
So far, Rudra has not made a profit. The determined woman says, “We are social enterprises, and I believe it is more important to do good than to make money. But yes, to be sustainable, we need to make money. What would you do once you had a plan to reach all the meters? We have calls from Delhi mainly because the air pollution in Delhi is so terrible. Today, outreach deserves praise, but it began with collecting plastic waste from her friends, whom Medha agreed to give her. “My driver and I went to get plastic from 6-8 homes. Then we founded the NGO Keshav Sita Memorial Trust which started educating people about plastic waste and it. We are beginning to educate society on how to change to. In this way, we have grown to 15,000 households in Pune,” says Dr. Medha.
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Every week two vans pick up plastic at the housing units. Then put it in a grinder and then in a thermocatalytic depolymerizer to turn it into poly fuel. Over the past year, 22,000 liters of poly fuel have been produced. Some of this fuel is sold to villages around Pune. “They have gas connections in the town, but they still burn wood or plastic to heat the water for the bath”. Rudra solution started educating people about this and selling the fuel at 35-37 rupees per liter. The rest of the Poly fuel is sold to those who use generators and incinerators. Some people who contribute the waste plastic to Rudra found poly fuel as the cheapest alternative for diesel to fire their generators.
Converting waste plastic into fuel is the best method to utilize the waste. So why didn’t Rudra offer the services to the municipality of Pune, which generates 1,600 tonnes of garbage per day, of which 7-8% did not serve the municipality of Pune, which is plastic?. “PMC recycles about 60% of plastic and 40% is sent to landfills. We provided the service, but we need to fix the space” says Medha.
After the successful management of the plastic issue, Dr. Medha started awareness about the harmfulness of plastic. She started collecting plastic from house to house and started telling people about converting plastic waste into fuel, but the soon of mouth word spread, and today, they are collecting from more than 15 thousand households across Pune. In the last few years, they have saved more than 250 metric tons of plastic, equal to 1500000 kg.
As Medha says, “The Possibilities are Immeasurable. ‘About 8 billion tons of plastic are dumped in landfills and the sea around the world. Imagine the amount of Poly fuel it can produce. Imagine how big a shopping mall in India (which consumes about 10,000 liters of diesel a year) can save if you buy 40 rupees of Poly fuel instead of 100 rupees of diesel for your generator. And produce some amount of pollutants while doing so? “
Yes, the opportunity to change the way of plastic use is enormous. However, Rudra is not in a hurry. “Patents are still pending, but we sell the equipment for free. Some people even copied us. But that makes me happy. Rudra can not work everywhere at a time. right? So let them use our designs to reduce some amount of pollution and reduce landfills. The more the merrier!” says the poly fuel entrepreneur Dr. Medha Tadpatrikar
All of us look at segregation differently. I tried to convert plastic waste into fuel, maybe you could come with a more superior idea. We should look at waste which leaves our house and gets mixed up. Nevertheless, if we can segregate it properly at the source where it was generated, it becomes easy for people like Dr. Medha. She says, “plastic is not a problem, the problem is us. Earth is the only planet we have. We can save it by changing our habits. Remember every little action has a huge reaction to it. So let’s start segregating waste today.”