Fueling India’s Green Future With Waste-to-Energy Technologies 

A continual generation of waste on a large scale is an alarming situation and is at the forefront of combating the biggest challenge of climate change. The waste generated by petrochemicals and other industries causes Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, a major environmental concern. According to the World Bank, the current global waste generated is 2.01 billion tonnes annually. It is predicted that this number will increase to 3.401 billion by 2050.

In India, waste generation in the petrochemical sector is increasing rapidly and contributes to around 45% of the total waste generated. As per a survey conducted by Science Direct in 2023, the major sources of waste that cause air emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulphur oxides are cogeneration plants, boilers, and catalytic cracking from refineries and petroleum product processors.

The refineries and product processors in petrochemical plants also cause volatile organic compound (VOC) pollutant emissions during the venting process. Notably, the pollutants produced during such petrochemical activities are styrene, benzene, naphthalene, etc. The updated regulations of the government for waste-to-energy management make bigger petrochemical companies look out for efficient and less time-consuming waste-to-energy technologies.

Cutting-Edge Waste-to-Energy Technologies

According to the Research Gate, waste-to-energy technologies are widely used in India’s different states and union territories to convert petrochemical waste into energy. Depending on the type of GHG emission, various technologies can be tailored and proven to be result-oriented.

Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO)

To eliminate the exhaust gas derived from petrochemical facilities, Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) is widely used by prominent companies. Using RTO as equipment eliminates Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). It is generally formed of three towers with ceramic beds where energy is recovered and the temperature is kept constant to facilitate the oxidation process. The organic compounds RTO eliminates are primary carbon and hydrogen.


Incineration is a widely used waste-to-energy technology for eliminating the waste derived from petrochemical processes. In various studies, this technology reduced waste mass by 70% and waste volume by up to 90%, which is preferred for high-calorific-value wastes. During incineration, steam is used to create heat energy via a turbine connected to a generator that produces bottom ash. These ashes contain silicon, iron, calcium, and potassium. 


It is the thermal waste method used in more than 60% of petrochemical plants and refineries. During pyrolysis, a heat of 300 to 800 degrees Celsius breaks down the organic constituents in an anaerobic environment. As a result, various syngas, including methane, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, etc., and liquids and solid residues are produced. These syngas can be used in various energy applications, such as heat pumps, engines, turbines, and boilers.

India’s Journey Towards Energy-Efficient Petrochemical Facilities

Various waste-to-energy technologies provide a convenient and environmentally friendly way to dispose of petrochemical waste and convert it into energy. India, which rapidly evolves with the world, has a large number of petrochemical plants for which such technologies will be a game-changer. We can’t neglect the role of government and leaders in the petrochemical sector in creating awareness and changing the manner of waste management among refinery owners.

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