Meet Chemist Rajagopalan Vasudevan, Plastic man of India

Prof VasudevanWhile the world continues to crib and scrunch at the rate with which plastics are accumulating worldwide, one man lights up at the sight of plastic bags, food packets and cans. He is fondly called the ‘Plastic man of India’. Rise up for Professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, 69,  from Thiagarajar College of Engineering near Madurai where he teaches chemistry. He has devised a technique to convert common plastic litter from bottles, acrylics to grocery bags and wrappers into a substitute for bitumen- the main component in asphalt – used for the construction of roads.

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generates 15,000 tons of plastic waste everyday, with Delhi alone accounting for 689.5 tonnes a day. In such a dismal situation, a technological innovation such as the one Prof. Vasudevan has devised can prove extremely useful when put in action.

Asphalt and Bitumen are petroleum derived products. As fossil fuels are becoming more scarce, scientists have started looking for alternatives for this and Prof. Vasudevan’s technology might meet this gap. It is a win-win situation for all,  it consumes unwanted plastic that is mostly non-recyclable and results in stronger roads by replacing 15% of  the more expensive bitumen.

Besides, Vasudevan’s method requires no technical expertise or investment or change in current road-laying procedures. So far, more than 5000 kilometers of roads have been laid with recycled plastic. He holds a patent for his technique but often licenses it for free, traveling around the country to share it with construction engineers.

In a country which is predicted to become the highest generator of waste plastic by 2020, where most of it goes untreated onto dumping sites, Prof. Vasudevan’s technique might provide a definite solution.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *