IIT-Kharagpur develops a zero-loss process for MSW

12 August 2019

A research team from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kharagpur has adopted a process called Hydro Thermal Carbonization (HTC) for Indian conditions, which can effectively manage mixed Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) with high moisture content. Through the process, most of the mixed MSW can be converted into biofuel, soil amendment, and absorbents.

The current waste incineration processes adopted from the developed nations are primarily focused on treating drier waste content. These processes require high energy input to combust municipal solid waste generated in India which has high moisture content due to tropical weather, open collection systems and mixed waste.

“Using the existing processes, only 20-30% of organic fraction of municipal solid waste is being recycled to biofuel. This led us to develop a technology which can address the challenge indigenously,” lead researcher, Professor B K Dubey from the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Kharagpur, said.

Zero-loss process for MSW

Explaining how the technology works, Dubey said: "The technology converts organic fraction of MSW into hydrochar by using a batch reactor. The moisture in the waste is used to the advantage of the process which uses water for the reaction. The process has increased the resource recovery yield to 50-65% of urban organic waste.”

The key to the success of the technology lies in designing a proper industrial-scale HTC reactor with improved heat integration system.

Another novelty of this technology is that zero-waste scale is reached through this process. “Once the organic waste is entered into the process, the outputs generated are all usable including the water which can either be reused in the process or can be converted to biogas or methane through anaerobic digestion,” said another researcher Sagarika Panigrahi.

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