KOCHI: At a time when civic bodies are struggling to solve the mounting solid waste crisis in cities and towns owing to its high moisture content, a group of researchers at Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) have come up with an innovative bio-drying reactor, which could help reduce water content in waste matter. This, researchers say, can solve the waste crisis in the state to an extent.
“Our research proves that bio-drying decreases moisture content in the municipal solid waste and improves its calorific value,” said Renu Pawels, professor, Civil Engineering Department, Cusat. The technology was developed on a pilot basis by the researchers in association with National Institute of Science and Technology, a CSIR laboratory in Thiruvananthapuram. According to Renu, converting waste to energy is the need of the hour especially since solid waste management is posing a headache for municipal bodies. “The high moisture content in municipal solid waste and its mixed nature should be prime areas of focus when planning municipal solid waste management in Kerala,” she said.
The researchers also said waste filled with moisture hinders the conversion of waste to energy. “The idea to adopt the ‘bio-drying process’ as a sustainable option was initiated after we began a lookout for efficient technology to convert the raw waste into an energy enriched material. Also, we were exploring suitable technologies for mixed municipal solid waste treatment,” she said.
“Besides reducing the moisture content, it increases the energy value of municipal solid waste by a convective evaporation process, which involves utilising the controlled aerobic reactions and the resulting biological heat to dry the waste. The bio-drying reactor developed for mixed waste with high moisture content was found to be efficient with a significant weight loss of 41 per cent in 11 days,” said Renu.
The bio-drying reactor has been designed to reach a temperature of 50 to 60-degree celsius. This ensures a pathogen-free output. The project was financially supported by Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE). The company entrusted with waste to energy project at Brahmapuram will adop the technology to tackle the waste arriving at the treatment plant.