Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) has developed and deployed an indigenous municipal solid waste combustor pilot plant at Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) factory in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu. It is based on a first-of-its-kind ‘Rotary Furnace Technology’ to efficiently process unsegregated Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) .

Developed indigenously, the facility can process up to one tonne of unsegregated MSW and generate steam as the main output along with clean gaseous emissions and ash as by-product on a daily basis, says a release from IIT Madras.

The initiative was a part of the Uchchatar Avishkar Yojana project funded by BHEL and the Union Ministry of Education. It was developed by IIT Madras Researchers at the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development. The plant also plays a key role in enabling the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission.’

This unit was inaugurated on Friday by V Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, at BHEL Tiruchi. The entire process from installation to commissioning was completed within six months. The plant is set up within the Combined Cycle Demonstration Plant premises of BHEL Tiruchi , the release said.

Multiple facilities

Kamakoti said the solid waste combustor not only addresses the scale and safe disposal issues, but also generates heat resulting in a waste-to-wealth creation.”

The MSW generated in India is around 133 million tonnes a year of which more than 85 per cent ends up in landfills. The total solid waste generation in Tamil Nadu is 14,600 tonnes/day with around 5,400 tonnes/day generated in Chennai alone. The MSW generation is increasing at 1.3 per cent a year with a current per capita generation of around 0.5-1 kg/day.

Efficient emission control

After the segregation and utilisation of bio-organic wastes for composting, vermicomposting and biogas generation, more than 2,500 tonne/day of bio-inorganic wastes, including plastics and high calorific value matter, are dumped in landfills. However, the Indian solid waste management industry is worth $13.62 billion by 2025, the release said.

R. Vinu, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, who led the project, said that the initial phase of testing with a smaller scale rotary combustion unit at the National Center for Combustion Research and Development at IIT Madras with several grades of wastes gave us huge confidence in building this improved full-scale unit with efficient emission control at BHEL, Tiruchi. The data from the unit in BHEL will help us to systematically scale-up the process in both distributed and centralised manner.