Indian Railways opens its 1st waste-to-energy plant; here’s why it’s a welcome move

Nikita Prasad
Indian Railways waste-to-energy plant

Indian Railways first waste-to-energy plant has been commissioned at Bhubaneswar! In a big boost towards sustainable development and energy-efficiency solutions, Indian Railways has taken a great step towards solid waste management. The East Coast Railway (ECoR) zone of the Railway Ministry has opened the first waste-to-energy plant in the city of Bhubaneswar. The plant, at the Mancheswar Carriage Repair Workshop at Bhubaneswar was inaugurated on January 22, 2020, by Rajesh Agarwal, Member, Railway Board (Rolling Stock). This is the first such plant of the Indian Railways network and the third such plant across the country. The total cost of installation is Rs 1.79 crore and the maintenance cost of the plant is Rs 10.4 lakh per annum.

According to the ECoR zone, the waste to energy plant is an important initiative as a big chunk of non-ferrous scrap is generated in Indian Railways workshops for which there is no efficient method of disposal and treatment. As a result, the scrap is sent to landfills, which is environmentally hazardous as its treatment is difficult. In order to tackle this problem, the East Coast Carriage Repair Workshop has come up with an innovative way for solving this problem, with a patented technology known as 'Polycrack'.

Polycrack is the world's very first patented heterogeneous catalytic process which converts multiple feedstocks into hydrocarbon liquid fuels, gas, carbon as well as water. The waste which is generated from the carriage workshop, the coaching depot and railway stations at Bhubaneswar will become the feeder material for the waste to energy plant. The energy which will be produced at the plant, will be in the form of light diesel oil and this oil will be used to light furnaces.The plant, having a capacity of 500 kg per batch can be fed with the following:

• All kinds of existing plastic

• Petroleum sludge

• Un segregated MSW with moisture up to 50 per cent

• E-waste

• Automobile fluff

• Organic waste including bamboo, garden waste

• Jathropa fruit and palm bunch

The waste to energy plant which has been opened with this technology, has several advantages of treating solid waste over conventional methods. Some of the advantages are as follows:

• The pre-segregation of waste is not required for processing in the plant. The waste as collected from the source, can be directly fed into the polycrack plant.

• The plant has high tolerance to moisture hence drying of the waste after treatment, is not required.

• The waste is processed in the plant and reformed within a period of 24 hours

• The biological decomposition is not allowed as the waste is treated in the plant as it is received

• All the constituents are converted to valuable energy therefore, making it a zero discharge process through the plant

• The gas generated in the process of the plant is reused in order to provide energy to the system, hence making it self reliant and self sufficient for its energy requirements. This also brings down the operating cost of the plant.

• The plant does not cause atmospheric emission during the process unlike the other conventional methods except for the combustion of gases which have pollutants less than the prescribed norms across the world.