Fabric from theromocol & citrus peel waste cleans up oil spills

Department of Chemical Engineering IIT Hyderabad (IIT-H) has developed a new technology to recycle waste polystyrene (PS) using citrus peel extract and develop it into a non-woven fabric. The fabric can be used for oil spills cleaning in lab and households locally.

Produced by collecting polystyrene waste from IIT Hyderabad Campus, along with citrus peel extract and then recycling it into fabric, it is validated and tested at different restaurants, working places. The pilot scale machine for developing this fabric is ready to be commercialized and technology transfer is in progress. A start-up company has been incubated in IIT Hyderabad Incubation Centre for the commercialization process. It has been developed under Waste Management Technology (WMT) program of the Department of Science & Technology (DST).

This fabric can selectively absorb oil and are hydrophobic. Therefore it can be used for a wide variety of applications ranging from kitchen napkins, to flexible packaging to oil spillage remediation.

This is the first such technology which utilises two different types of waste (plastic & agro waste) together. The novelty of the technology is that direct recycling of polystyrene waste is done at normal temperature and it is the first of its kind technology for this kind of plastic waste.  The technology was developed by Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and his team.  

Polystyrene popularly called thermocol is a non-biodegradable material that leads to serious impact on health and environment as a waste. The initial waste having been collected from IIT-H Campus, there is a plan to develop the model system to recycle Polystyrene waste in IIT-H Campus.

The technology is ready to be commercialized and technology transfer is in progress through the start-up company, M/s. Restyro Technologies Pvt. Ltd. in IIT Hyderabad Incubation Centre.

The patent for the technology has been proposed and valuation has been done on conservation mode. The valuation of patent has been placed as INR 58,90,00,000. Currently, there is no recycled Polystyrene (PS) fabric available in the market and there is a huge market potential of generating PS fabric up to 110 tons/year which makes it a promising product in the market.