Driven by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, solid waste management is gaining popularity in India. As a result, solid waste is on its way to becoming a considerable source of energy. While waste-to-energy (WtE) technology has existed for a long time, its adoption remains limited. As of January 2017, only 164.45 MW of WtE plants have been installed in the country. Even more limited has been the adoption of the waste disposal system for managing the 62 million tonnes of waste generated in the country per year. Among the waste materials, the disposal of plastics and rubber is especially challenging as they find their way into landfills and/or are burned in the open, either way left to pollute the environment. Pyrocrat Systems LLP has found a common solution to the issues of plastic disposal and energy management through pyrolysis technology.
Pyrolysis is the process of breaking down plastic or rubber into smaller molecules and converting it into usable oil, known as pyrolysis oil. Plastic-to-oil pyrolysis uses any plastic waste including carry bags, bottles, scrap and laminates. The technology is further extended by Pyrocrat to produce electricity from plastic-to-electricity plants. Pyrolysis oil is used as a substitute for industrial grade diesel and is priced lower than the market price of diesel.
Available in capacities of 3 tonnes per day (tpd), 6 tpd and 12 tpd, the company’s pyrolysis plants have a cumulative installed capacity of 100 tpd. In addition, they have a manufacturing capacity of about 50 tpd, with most of the components being manufactured and assembled in-house.
While Pyrocrat’s focus is on the Indian market, it has branched into international markets as well. Currently, 12 tonnes and 6 tonnes of plants are being supplied to the UK and Kenya, respectively, while another 12 tonnes of plants are in the installation phase in Indonesia. In India, the company is currently in the process of supplying 12 tonnes of pyrolysis plants while another 6 tonnes of plants are currently under implementation.
A notable recent project was the installation of a 5 tonne plastic waste-to-oil plant for Bright Solutions Private Limited. Bright Solutions is looking to enhance the plant’s installed capacity by another 3.5 tonnes within two months of the installation.
As the price of pyrolysis oil depends on the market price of diesel, the company had suffered a financial setback when global crude oil prices had dropped. As diesel prices fell in the country, the profitability of pyrolysis oil also decreased. However, the company has been growing consistently after having recovered from the economic distress. The price of pyrolysis oil is currently Rs 30-Rs 40 per litre. Pyrocrat earned revenues of Rs 145 million in 2015-16, up from Rs 90 million in 2014-15. The company expects to generate revenues of about Rs 200 million by the end of 2016-17.
“Having come a long way from an under-developed technology and low commercialisation, the company is bullish on the future of its technology with the release of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016. When the rules will come into effect in 2018, the adoption of pyrolysis technology is expected to increase significantly. The rules specify that the responsibility of managing and disposing of plastic waste extends beyond municipal bodies to include the various industries, such as the fast moving consumer goods industry and other multinational corporations, increasing the customer base for companies like Pyrocrat,” says Suhas Dixit, partner and founder of Pyrocrat Systems LLP. However, there remain issues and challenges that the emerging segment needs to address. For instance, the raw material used for pyrolysis plants often has high moisture and soil content, which leads to low efficiencies. The efficiency of a pyrolysis plant varies from 30 to 80 per cent depending on the quality of the raw material. Thus, the plastic scrap market needs to be more organised and the segregation of waste should be done at source in order to enhance the efficiency of the technology.
Pyrocrat’s future plans are focused on making the technology more economically viable. The company plans to further enhance the technology to bring in efficiency and produce petrol and other crude oil derivates, along with diesel.
At present, 99 per cent of the plastic waste finds its way into landfills, which, as per the recent regulations, will have to be converted into energy. Pyrocrat is optimistic about the future of its technology and hopes that with the support of the new rules, most of the plastic waste will be diverted for pyrolysis, making its disposal efficient and environment friendly.