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A green way to burn plastic waste

Computer Science engineer develops eco-friendly plastic waste burner

July 27, 2019 10:32 pm | Updated 10:32 pm IST - Thrissur

Burning of plastic waste has been a huge challenge as it produces harmful gases, which may cause many health hazards, including cancer.

Prakash Somasundaran, a Computer Science engineer from Thrissur, has come up with an ‘eco clean plastic waste burner’, which can burn plastic in an eco-friendly manner.

The apparatus uses low-cost natural fuel such as coconut shell/fibre and sawdust for burning plastic. No chemical has been used in it, says Mr. Somasundaran, an alumnus of Bharatiar University.

“The trick lies in pyrolysis of sawdust, which produces large amounts of heat, as high as 300 degrees Celsius. For treating the hazardous gases being produced when plastic burns, you have to treat them with water, which will dissolve the harmful gases,” he says.

Burning inorganic waste in the open with uncontrolled fire is very dangerous. It may release many toxic gases, resulting in air pollution.

Particularly, plastic waste may contain styrene and PVC, which may cause dangerous emissions such as styrene gas and highly toxic chemicals.

The styrene gas can be absorbed by the skin and lungs. Toxic gases emitted by plastic waste burning can also cause cancer, asthma, and other diseases.

Many techniques have been used for addressing the harmful effects of plastic burning using furnace or burner. Using burner may reduce the emission of toxic gases.

Artificial fuel

“Generally, burner uses artificial fuel. But gas, kerosene, and oil may cost high and release more harmful smoke. Further, materials such as wood only burns for a shorter time and gets lit off easily. Heavy plastic metals cannot be melted completely in this short time and it requires more fuel for consistent and long-term burning. Moreover, in some conventional apparatus, waste and the fuel are burned in a single unit that may lead to uncontrolled fire and damage the facility,” Mr. Somasundaran says.

“My apparatus uses natural fuel and provides a low-cost way to burn plastic waste in households,” he says.

The apparatus costs around ₹50,000 and can burn around 5-10 kg of plastic waste a day. The fuel cost for a day will be only ₹100,” according to Mr. Somasundaran. He has an Indian patent for the invention.

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