Waste-to-energy process promises smaller, cleaner plants
Cutting edge waste-to-energy plants that are smaller and cleaner than incinerators could soon hit the UK market.The plants run a new process that transforms non-recyclable waste into a clean syn-gas, used to generate clean power and a high-strength building material, with the plant itself powered by the syn-gas it produces.
Carbon-neutral and very low in emissions with plants around a third of the size of incinerators, the Gasplasma process can compete with incinerators on a number of counts, according to Andrew Hamilton, CEO of Advanced Plasma Power, the company that patented the process:
"The trick here for us has been the combination of gasification and plasma. The benefit of combining these two existing technologies is that you substantially reduce the power requirements, and that transforms the economics of the process," he told edie.
"You will get some CO2 coming out but a half to two-thirds of the waste is biodegradable so it's carbon neutral," he said, adding that the process beats incineration when it comes to the carbon balance.
The process has passed tests in a pilot plant with flying colours and is now ready to be implemented on larger scale, he said. Numerous advantages over incinerators include size, a major selling point as the 15m-high plant takes up around a third of the space needed for an incinerator.
"Because it's got a small building footprint with a low profile building and small stack, and it's very clean, it is very suitable for urban settings.
"But equally, because it is modular, having two or three of these in a large spread-out county means the waste has to travel a lot less than if you have one incinerator in the middle of the county," he said.
And while the company could feel threatened by increasing efforts to minimise packaging, recycle, re-use and cut out waste altogether, Andrew Hamilton does not see waste-to-energy plants ever running out of feedstock.
"Our business is dealing with what can't be eliminated, what can't be recycled, there's always going to be a big volume of waste that has to be treated. Absolutely support recycling and waste minimisation but one has to be realistic about what to do with the rest of it."
For more information on Advanced Plasma Power see www.advancedplasmapower.com.
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