IIT Kharagpur

IIT Kharagpur researchers develop process to manage wet municipal solid waste

Kharagpur | India

India generates about 150,000 T of MSW every day, which adds to about 55 million tons of garbage per year.

A good part of this garbage is wet waste - food waste, vegetable waste, meat waste...

Ideally, such wet waste should be treated such that it is converted to compost or put through a process called anaerobic digestion to generate biogas. But to do either of these processes requires that the MSW is fully segregated, something that is woefully lacking in India. While efforts are on to segregate municipal solid waste at source, it could be many years before such segregation becomes effective. Until then, the MSW that reaches the landfills or any other processing centre is likely to be a mixture of dry waste (paper, cardboard, plastic..) and wet waste, making the MSW to have a pretty high moisture content.

High moisture in MSW results in significant inefficiencies when it is used to be converted to energy in conventional processes such as incineration. How else could such MSW be treated?

A research team from IIT Kharagpur has adapted a process called Hydro Thermal Carbonization (HTC) for the Indian conditions which can effectively manage mixed Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) with high moisture content. Through the process most of the mixed MSW can be converted into biofuel, soil amendment and absorbents.

The technology converts organic fraction of MSW into hydrochar. As water is required for the reaction, the moisture in the waste itself is used to advantage. According to the research team. the process has increased the resource recovery yield to 50-65% of urban organic waste.

The main end product from the process is a biofuel with energy content similar to coal and thus could be used as a green fuel. By-products from the process could be used to generate biogas, according to the team.

While it appears that this is not yet a fully commercialized, it certainly promises to be an interesting avenue worth exploring further.

IIT Club wishes the IIT Kharagpur team all the best in their impressive efforts.

Links that provide inputs on India's solid waste and MSW management challenges:




Economic Times | Last Updated : 31-Jul-19

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