Researchers from IIT Roorkee have created sustainable solutions to address plastic and electronic waste.

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The researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR) are producing sustainable technologies to confront plastics and e-waste. They have formulated e-waste recycling procedures that adhere to projects such as ‘Smart cities’ and ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ with the use of a zero-waste discharge principle.

The research team led by KK Pant, the director of IIT Roorkee, has been focusing on such technologies. Their approach is split into two parts: pyrolyzing e-waste and separating out the metal bits, followed by recovering the individual metals.

This recycling approach can be expanded and used as a more sustainable option in comparison to the acid-leaching methods that are commonly used. Tests have shown that a 10 kg/h continuous pyrolysis facility can be built. Furthermore, the treatment of e-waste involves separating metals using precipitation, electro-deposition and cementation techniques.

The researchers at IIT Roorkee concentrated on creating an all-encompassing waste management system that uses discarded plastic to generate liquid hydrocarbons with the help of catalytic cracking. According to a press release, the two-stage process results in a 100% transformation of plastic waste into useful products containing 75% liquids and approximately 25% gas.

The team is also engaged in a variety of projects related to ‘circular economy’, a system of production and consumption that revolves around utilizing and reusing existing materials for an extended period of time. Other topics of research by the group are the transformation of biomass into fuels and valuable chemicals, as well as the production of hydrogen from biomass and RDF gasification.

K.K Pant, Director of IIT Roorkee, emphasizes the necessity of creating sustainable measures to tackle the large amount of plastic and e-waste being produced in India, due to the rise in electronic device usage. If appropriate processes are not implemented soon, the e-waste can lead to permanent ecological and environmental harm. IIT Roorkee researchers presented a closed-loop recycling system that could replace acid-leaching techniques, which are incredibly hazardous. The process is highly scalable and has the potential to be an environmentally friendly solution.

Mayank Tewari

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