“The idea is to carbonise solid waste in low oxygen conditions and convert the material into coal. Because there is no oxygen involved in the process, and the carbonisation is taking place with external heat – the conversion process is not toxic and the carbonised output is of usable quality for power plants,” said Amit Kulsreshtha, NTPC’s general manager-new initiatives.
“Also the product is cost-competitive and at times cheaper than the market price of regular coal that we buy to fuel our plants. The idea was germinated by Chennai-based inventor Dr SK Sivakumar, which we then co-developed,” he said. The project is likely to take off in the next 7-8 months, officials said.
In fact, Dr Sivakumar (49) started working on the idea in 2012 and after years of trying to convert waste into something usable, and he ended up creating a sort of carbonised material called “torrefied coal”. He pitched the idea with NTPC which then took him on board and co-developed the product.
“As a doctor, I was on a daily basis exposed to heaps of medical waste. So, I thought of applying a technique to upcycle the waste and this piece of carbon was formed. I am still finalising things with NTPC about how it will be implemented to help clean up India of urban waste, which is my real dream,” Sivakumar told TOI from Chennai.
NTPC’s Kulsreshtha said, “Say, at the Varanasi plant, we have the capacity to load 600 tonnes of waste every day, of these, after the carbonising process, 400 tonnes of coal will be generated. From these, we will be able to generate close to one million kilowatt hour of electricity.”