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Clean Seas to begin a waste-to-energy project in Kinshasa

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Clean Seas to begin a waste-to-energy project in Kinshasa

Not to bore you with history but did you know that the modern plastic era began in 1907, with the invention of Bakelite by a Belgian-American, Leo Baekeland?

Granted, plastics have contributed extensively to the development of computers, cell phones, lightweight automobile parts, food packaging, electrical materials as well as much of the lifesaving advances of modern medicine, among many other areas of use.

The catch, however, is that most of the plastics are designed for single-use; as such, global plastic production continues to accelerate, even as recycling rates are comparatively low, with only about 15% plastic getting recycled out of the 380 million tons of plastic produced yearly.

It is no longer news that plastic waste is a real threat to the global economy, humans, animals, and the environment. Developing and underdeveloped economies bear the brunt of plastic pollution due to weak policies on plastics production, usage, and regulation.

To that end, countries, particularly in Africa, are embarking on initiatives that can help curb plastic pollution in sustainable ways. One such nation is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the country’s capital populated by 15 million inhabitants, the daily production of solid waste is estimated at 9,000 tons, most of which is plastic in nature.

In light of this, DRC will work with Clean Seas Inc, a supplier of technological solutions in the field of waste management, to construct an energy recovery plant for plastic waste in Kinshasa, using pyrolysis technology developed by US-based GlobalGreen International.

One scholarly article describes pyrolysis as the thermal degradation of plastic waste at different temperatures (300–900℃), in the absence of oxygen, to produced liquid and gaseous fuel.

Rather than burn waste plastic, what pyrolysis does is heat in the absence of oxygen or a low-oxygen environment, breaking it down into a mixture of simpler hydrocarbons.

This process reverts used, discarded plastics into valuable resources in the form of monomers, fuel, and other useful resources. In the case of DRC, pyrolysis will be used to derive 96 MWh of electricity yearly from plastic waste.

Recently, the consultancy firm Hamden, which is piloting the project in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), unveiled the name of the company that will build the new factory. Clean Seas plans to convert 200 tons of used plastics every day.

Pyrolysis for electrification- A $30 million project

According to the agreement signed with the group’s general manager Manu Mabengo Tsumbu, Clean Seas will also operate the future plant over a period of 30 years. The company also provides other technological solutions in waste management.

Through its subsidiary, Clean Vision Corporation will use pyrolysis technology to recover plastic waste in Kinshasa. The process consists of heating the plastic waste to more than 400 ° C in a first tank to obtain a synthesis gas.

The electricity produced by the future plant will be fed into the national grid. Clean Seas will produce 15,000 liters of combustion diesel, 3,500 liters of industrial lubricants, and three tonnes (metric) of coal.

This will generate 70,000 tonnes (metric) of carbon credit in the city of Kinshasa. Clean Seas will also train local staff to operate the plant.

In addition to generating electricity, the project developed in Kinshasa will also contribute to the fight against plastic pollution. Its full implementation will require an investment of $30 million.

The project will be financed by Clean Seas, which will draw on loans from development partners. The company is already in “active discussions” with suitable investors, according to Dan Bates, CEO of Clean Vision Corporation.

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