CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) has decided to dispose of its solid dry waste by tying up with a firm helping recycle paper and plastic. What about wet waste? Director S. Chandrasekhar points to greenish bulbous structures on the campus.
Here the institute has put its technology to use. It is that of converting kitchen waste into biogas through an Anaerobic Gas-lift Reactor (AGR), a European invention re-developed to suit Indian conditions, that it has successfully installed in many private and public organizations. IICT generates up to 80 kg of wet kitchen waste a day, cooked and uncooked food, and this is mostly picked up by municipal garbage truck to be dumped at Jawaharnagar yard. “At the yard, useful items that can be recycled are picked up by rag pickers, but the food waste goes into the dump. We can purposefully utilize it for biogas,” explains A. Gangagni Rao, chief scientist, bioengineering and environmental sciences division.
Since the wet kitchen waste generated after making food for 5,000 persons is about 80 kg, garbage from nearby hotels is being sourced to run the 250 kg capacity rector. Trash is put inside through a chute, and rough parts are put into a digester first for grinding overnight, and, if necessary, water is added. Biogas produced is stored in three balloons, equivalent to one LPG gas cylinder of 15 kg, and linked to the kitchen stove. We also get 250 kg slurry serving as good manure for plants. Some of it is being used in our garden and rest for use in agriculture farms,” says Dr. Rao. He and his team were instrumental in setting up 15 such plants with AGR technology, including Brindavan, Hubli, Rourkela, engineering colleges, and corporate houses.
The institute has a patent for AGR technology and utilizes a local firm’s services to execute projects on a turnkey basis while providing technical guidance and supervision. “80% of plants are of one-tonne capacity generating bio-gas equal up to four LPG cylinders. Investment can be recovered in a few months because the money being spent for powering lights or stoves and for garbage disposal can be saved,” claims the scientist. Right now, the IICT unit is busy building a ₹3-crore 10-tonne plant to process vegetable waste at the Bowenpally vegetable market with funding from Central and State governments. The market committee is spending ₹5 lakh for power and garbage disposal, and by generating up to 1000 units of power, it will be saving them money, adds Dr. Rao.
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