Waste to Wealth

Waste plastic converted to fuel oilAbove: InStove with retort.
Below: Plastic from empty #2 plastic jugs converted into usable fuel oil (similar to biodiesel in chemical formula) at a rate of about 1g solid plastic input to 0.9g fuel output.
You can donate or invite us to speak to your local Rotary project about this Rotary International-funded effort.

Plastic Trash to Valuable Commodity

Global trends of population growth and increasing urbanization in developing countries generates increasingly unsustainable amounts of plastic waste. This accumulation represents both an environmental threat—particularly to waterways—and a public health problem. While recycling is an option to address this problem in developed countries, the infrastructure needed to manage waste accumulation is often lacking in rural or developing ones. Therefore, a technology is needed which allows local people in such areas to close loops and utilize this waste plastic for the benefit their communities, and in ways that create profitable micro-enterprises that make such an intervention durable, replicable, and scalable.

InStove is developing just such an intervention in partnership with the engineering department of the University of Kentucky, Paducah. Through the use of our efficient, biomass, institutional stove, and a novel, low-tech retort (pictured) designed with student researchers at UK-Paducah, we have devised a model to to convert plastic waste into a valuable fuel that can be used as a substitute for traditional, petroleum-derived diesel. It can be used to fuel cooking stoves, lamps, vehicles or generators in areas lacking reliable electricity or stable fuel supply chains. This project creates a market for waste plastic, and generates entrepreneurial opportunities to meet fundamental global needs in a way that protects the health of the planet, and her people.

The Project

To validate this model, InStove and UK-Paducah will be Initially focused on Uganda, then India, with outcomes replicable worldwide. In this first phase, placement of five processors with families in Kabanyolo, Uganda, families will produce fuel oil from waste plastic, and we will design a training program to help this project scale. Long term, this effort will kickstart the broad dissemination of this closed-loop waste-to-wealth, environmental intervention globally. The entrepreneurial component of the pilot will ensure that impacts continue long after the yearlong-intervention, and generate sufficient revenue to be self-replicating. Finally, this project adds a significant humanitarian technology to InStove’s suite of applications which already include water pasteurization, sterilization of medical supplies and waste, agricultural processing, and high-capacity cooking—all using renewable energy in the form of small-diameter biomass.

If you would like to support projects like this, please consider a donation, or better yet, connect us to Rotary clubs in your area that might like to learn more about how to join this collective effort to create opportunities for vulnerable communities, while cleaning the environment. Contact adam {at} InStove.org.


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