IIP working on producing fuel from plastic waste
At a time when the prices of auto and cooking fuels have hit the roof, a salve for the burn being felt by consumers could take shape from plastic waste. Abhinav Madhwal and Anupama Airy report.business Updated: Nov 17, 2011 01:48 IST
Scientists at the Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) are close to "successfully" completing a research to make petrol, diesel and cooking gas (LPG) from plastic waste.
The IIP spokesman, SK Sharma, said, "The long years of research have yielded fruit and the project will be successfully completed by next month."
GAIL (India) Ltd, the flagship natural gas company of the government, is funding the research which started in 2002, led by IIP director MO Garg and five other scientists.
BC Tripathi, chairman and managing director of GAIL (India) Ltd, told HT on Wednesday, “We are associated with the research being carried out by IIP to produce hydrocarbons from plastic waste.”
Once the research is completed, GAIL will help in the commercial production of the fuel generated from plastic.
While it remains to be seen how successfully the IIP and GAIL establish the commercial viability of the project, a breakthrough would cheer environmentalists warning of the choking effect of non-biodegradable plastics on the environment.
But the research could attract sceptics because the IIP had once been taken in by school dropout P Ramar Pillai of Tamil Nadu, who had shot into limelight with the claim of making herbal petrol. Challenged, Pillai could not back his claim by producing his herbal fuel.
The IIP, however, appears surefooted with its research. Sanat Kumar, senior scientist at the IIP, said, “A meeting is scheduled in December to work out the final strategy for making fuel from waste plastic. Until then, the formalities of the experiment will be completed.”
The process of turning plastic into auto and cooking fuel includes pyrolysis (thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without oxygen) of plastic waste, catalytic conversion and condensation.
According to IIP spokesman Sharma, the petrol and diesel made from this process meet the Euro III norms and the process also makes LPG.
Incidentally, petroleum products and natural gas are used in making plastic.