National University of Science and Technology graduate Farai Masendo’s can turn plastic waste into diesel.
Masendo’s invention won him the Total Zimbabwe’s 2018/19 Start Upper Challenge. Masendo (FM) told The Standard’s business reporter Fidelity Mhlanga (FMM) that the diesel has been tested and certified by regulators. He said he has received an award from the Research Council of Zimbabwe in 2017. At the moment they are not using the diesel for cars, but for industries that consume a lot of diesel to power generators and fire boilers.
Masendo described the diesel process. Below is an excerpt:
FMM: Can you take us through the diesel processing?
FM: We collect waste plastics and clean them and shred them into small particles to increase the surface area available for the reaction process to take place.
After that, they go to our reactor where they undergo catalytic cracking — depolymerisation and reorientation.
Gas is produced and gas passes through heat exchangers whereby it cools off to produce diesel. This is now chemistry.
The important parameter on our catalyst, which we design on our own, is the one that gives us better yields and the desired product, which is diesel at a better purity level.