IIT-M develops technology to tackle the growing problem of solid waste

A municipal solid waste combustion plant developed locally by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) has been installed at the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) facility in Tiruchirapalli.

The combustion plant is based on first-of-its-kind rotary kiln technology to efficiently process unsegregated municipal solid waste generated Friday in India.

“Waste management is becoming an important issue that requires scalable solutions and also contributes to quick and safe disposal. The first-of-its-kind solid waste incinerator developed by IIT Madras not only solves the problems of scale and safe disposal, but also generates heat leading to wealth creation of waste,” said the director of the ‘IIT-M, V Kamakoti.

The institute said the plant can process up to one tonne of unsorted municipal solid waste (MSW) per day and generate steam as its main output, as well as clean gaseous emissions and ash as a by-product.

MSW generated in India amounts to approximately 133 million tons per year, of which more than 85% ends up in landfills. Total solid waste generation in Tamil Nadu is 14,600 tonnes/day with approximately 5,400 tonnes/day generated in Chennai (TNPCB, 2021). The generation of MSW is increasing by 1.3% per year with a current generation per capita of about 0.5 to 1 kg/day.

The whole process, from installation to commissioning, was completed in six months, the institute said.

After the separation and use of bio-organic waste for composting, vermicomposting and biogas production, more than 2,500 tons/day of bio-inorganic waste, including plastics and materials with high calorific value, are dumped in landfills. However, India’s solid waste management industry is worth $13.62 billion by 2025, according to the institute.

BHEL would further do a lot of testing and optimize the operational philosophy for future scaling and market it as a reliable and user-friendly product.

As part of the Ucchatar Avishkaar Yojana (UAY) project funded by BHEL and the Union Ministry of Education, the plant was developed by researchers from IIT-M of the National Center for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD ). This factory also plays a key role in the Swachh Bharat mission.