The magic wand to convert the world’s most daunting environmental problem of plastic waste into its most precious commodity, fossil fuels including diesel and petrol, is being wielded by a low profile woman scientist in India’s western state of maharashtra.
Alka Zadgaonkar,who lives and works as an applied chemistry professor in the central indian town of Nagpur, began to work her magic almost two years ago. A zero- pollution industrial process to convert non-biodegradable- and mostly non-recyclable-plastic waste into liquid hydrocarbons is quietly underway in the Butibori industrial estate, 25 kilometer from Alka’s home in Nagpur, the absolute central point of the country.
The Zadgaonkars’ unique Waste plastic Management and research company plant devours a whole range of plaqstic waste- from discarded carry bags to mineral water bottles and broken buckets to pvc pipes, polyethylene eriophthalate (PET) bottles, even ABS (acrylonitrile butadine sterine) plastic material used in the making of computer moniitors and tv sets, keyboards et al- and converts it 100 per cent into liquid hydrocarbon fuels (85 per cent) and gases( 15 per cent).
The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has recommended use of the Zadgaonkar liquid fuels in running agriculture pumps and boilers, as marine fuel and input feed for petro refineries, and the gaseous fuels as an in-house and industrial substitute for LPG.
The world’s first and so far the only continuous process industrial plant in Butibori has caught the eye of the scientic community and begun to beckon entrepreneurs to approach its close-fisted promoter with buy-up or tie- up offers.
While this happens, the inventor continues to go about her modest Indian urban middle-class routine of cooking food for her family every morning and evening and teaching at the Raisoni Engineering College during the day.
” Invention of the process was the greatest reward of my life; why should i change my lifestyle?” asks Professor Alka Zadgaonkar, who is in her 40s, while serving her in-laws a meal.