“I was always interested in the environment, and developing sustainable solutions to counter the environmental and ecological problems being faced by Bengaluru,” says Ferdin Sylvester, a 29-year-old environmental engineer, and the man behind Therminator —a patent-pending innovation.
Ferdin studied biotechnology in Bengaluru, and environmental engineering in Singapore. When he eventually returned to his home city, i.e., Bengaluru, Ferdin began to chalk out plans to start a firm of his own.
He was sure that it wouldn’t just be any regular company, but one that offered comprehensive and environment-friendly solutions, geared towards sustainability.
“I would visit homes in apartments, to investigate their solid waste management methods,” says Ferdin, adding that he wanted to show citizens that there were solutions in place to eliminate solid waste in an environment-friendly manner.
“Solid waste management is indeed a serious issue,” says Ferdin, speaking of the non-sustainable methods that are used by many people. He stresses that the procedure isn’t too complicated, but people must be willing to come forward and be part of a change.
With an aim to provide holistic solutions and consultancy services for solid waste management and organic waste management in individual homes, apartments, companies and localised collection systems, Ferdin began his own company—Ecobel.
Under the umbrella of solid waste management, Ferdin’s company provides waste recycling and disposal services, composting services and biogas plants, and even helps convert the waste into energy.
However, his company’s innovation in Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) recycling, is what got him recognised.
Ferdin designed and created a machine called the “Therminator.” As the name suggests, it is a machine similar to a refrigerator and compresses kilos of thermocol into small masses using heat, pressure and gravity.
The machine is so efficient that it can reduce a batch of thermocol to 80% of its volume.
“Garbage pickers will prefer paper and plastic, but not thermocol,” explains Ferdin, elaborating that they do this because of the large volume and little value that thermocol has, rendering it useless to be sold to recyclers.
The Therminator can not only compress thermocol but also make it financially viable enough to be sold.
“Thermocol is usually burnt, and that releases harmful fumes into the air,” says Ferdin, adding that dumping in sewers, drains and already-full landfills is creating a problem.
In order to study the recycling of thermocol, Ferdin carried out an experiment at the Dry Waste Collection Centre (DWCC) at Jayanagar Ward 168, last year. He found that by compressing thermocol, the recycling plant can transport more at a time, and thus make profits.
As of now, the Therminator can easily compress a kilo of thermocol, a process that takes 45-60 minutes. It forces air out of the thermocol, by deforming polystyrene bondings. Thermal plates of the machine heat the thermocol at a glass transition temperature. Resultantly, it doesn’t melt, but transitions into a semi-solid state. This works because thermocol is just plastic, with air trapped inside it. Ferdin’s Therminator even has an air filter, so any fumes that escape the machine are arrested.
Ecobel also undertakes wastewater management, by providing customised advanced solutions for residential sewage treatment as well as industrial wastewater treatment plants.
The company also carries out wastewater characterisation, and uses advanced technologies like Active Sludge Technology, Activated Sludge Technology, Membrane Bioreactors (MBR), Sequential Batch Reactors (BSR), septic tanks, soak pits, and the optimisation of existing wastewater treatment plants.
It is, however, the Therminator that undoubtedly steals the show.
In the long term, Ferdin’s goal is to create sustainable and long-term solutions for waste and energy issues in developing nations. He also wants to rent out the machine and even manufacture and market them.
For a machine with a capacity of 1 kg, Ferdin pegs the price at Rs 4.5 lakh, while a machine with a capacity of 2 kgs will cost 6.5 lakh.
Additionally, Ferdin aspires to connect with government bodies so that he can demonstrate the amazing capabilities of the Therminator.
Ecobel’s mission to provide efficient and sustainable waste and energy management initiatives, is in line with another one of Ferdin’s goals—to implement extensive technology into waste management, despite being in a low-cost environment like India.
Thermocol has always been of concern to the authorities as recyclers don’t see any value in it. Well, with the Therminator, things are about to change.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)