I must admit I am one those guys who often scoffs and startup competitions. Here at Techzim we used to be part of the ZOL Startup challenge and one of the things that I observed was that some startups at these events are serial competitors whose ideas while sounding good during events, rarely ever took off.
Once in a while however you come across wonderful life changing ideas at these events. Farai Masendo’s invention which won the runner up prize at the Total Startup Challenge 2018/19 is one such creation. Masendo’s reactor turns plastic waste into diesel.
How it works
We have all heard about the funny stories about diesel. I mean putting together the words Chinhoyi and Diesel is enough of a joke to bring smiles of people’s faces. This is nothing like that, this is science not magic where a guy waves his wand at holly mountains and diesel oozes out.
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.
Life changing potential
Sure his invention is not exactly ground breaking-this has been done in a lot of countries. However this is local knowledge that has the potential to be life changing and would go a long way in helping to change this country’s fortunes.
We all know the fuel situation in this country with people spending hours in endless queues and the government constantly promising us this will be a thing of the past. On the other hand our once beautiful cities and towns are full of plastic litter which is not biodegradable.
Then there is the fact that this guy won a competition being hosted by Total. It seems the stars have aligned. According to Masendo with the right funding his creation has the potential to produce one million litres of diesel a day granted that would require some remarkable plastic foraging skills or paying people for their litter at some point.