Growing market for alternative systems

The new Waste Strategy offers the prospect of a range of new technology being developed as an alternative to incineration in treating waste. LAWE looks at progress on this front.

According to Juniper, a specialist consultancy based in Gloucestershire, 1999 was a record year for pyrolysis and gasification of waste. The company monitors new orders for new thermal treatment plants around the world and has recently completed its analysis of 1999 starts.

“According to our research, more facilities were built in 1999 than in any other year so far,” commented Claudia Heermann, Market Analyst at Juniper responsible for its database that tracks this market.

“Our records go back to 1982,” she added; “1999 beat the previous record year, 1996, mainly because of market demand in Europe and Japan for systems to replace incineration in recovering value from municipal solid waste (MSW) and post-consumer waste.”

At the same time, Juniper also published the results of its latest analysis of market trends. According to the consultancy, there will be substantial growth in the market. Joe Schwager, Managing Director of Juniper, said: “Our analysis of orders already placed indicates that 2000 will continue this accelerating trend and the number of plants world-wide will be nearly 40% higher than in 1999.”

Juniper posed the question: “Does this strong growth in demand for pyrolysis and gasification point to a shift away from incineration towards these technologies?” and reported that some of the companies that promote these processes had claimed that incineration was now obsolete as a waste treatment method. But the Juniper thinks that such talk is inappropriate.

The consultancy says that, after more than a year of detailed research, during which the company talked to governments, industry experts, potential customers and equipment makers across the world, it has concluded that, while these processes will play an increasingly important role in the recovering value from waste, their analysis also shows that many decision makers remain cautious about adopting such systems.

“Customers,” the company believes, “still regard many of the new processes currently being marketed as relatively unproven – and therefore risky.”

For this reason, Juniper’s conclusion from its research is that, while these new technologies will gain market share, the majority of thermal treatment facilities ordered will still utilise conventional incineration technology. Nevertheless, market growth will be substantial. Juniper has just published the first analysis of the market potential on a world-wide basis and is forecasting that more than 200 facilities will be built between 1999 and 2008. This represents a value of $9 billion over the period.

New developments

Among the range of options offering alternatives to incineration of waste with energy recovery, is waste gasification where a new company, IET Energy Ltd, launched into the UK market last month.

Mike Pope, of US company International Environmental Technology (IET) Inc, said the new company will market IET Inc’s innovative, low-cost, gasification-based energy from waste system in the UK and Western Europe. IET Energy Ltd will market the Waste Gasification / Thermal Oxidation Process (TOPS) waste gasification system through an agreement with Envirowise International Ltd, which will be responsible for promoting the technology.

The TOPS technology is a gasification process with batch-loaded chambers specifically designed for the client’s waste stream and quantity. Waste is deposited directly into the Primary Gasification Cell, directly from collection vehicles with no need for pre-sorting. Several primary cells are combined to provide the total plant capacity. The gasification process in individual cells is initiated in sequence to optimise the production of fuel gas over a 24-hour period. The system is available in capacity ranges from 5,000 to 100,000 tonnes per annum, all available with or without power generation capability. The system allows for recovery at the end of the process of glass, aluminium and other metals.

Planning permission is currently being sought in the UK for two plants at 15,000 tonnes per annum, and one at 35,000 tonnes per annum. These have been ordered by independent waste companies.

Norwegian technology

Earlier this year energy from waste technology developed in Norway was also launched on to the UK market. A new Organic Energy Power Conversion Plant is available as a result of an agreement between Organic Power AS (OPAS), a Norwegian combustion technology company, and Energy From Waste (EFW), the Lincolnshire-based energy developer and consultant.

OPAS has developed a three-step gasification/combustion technology, which has the ability to dispose of a wide range of waste materials. Designed to meet the strictest emission constraints in Europe, the technology has been subjected to extensive pilot plant tests at the Agricultural University of Norway, Institute of Technology. OPAS has also documented additional tests, through extensive emission monitoring by accredited laboratories at their full-scale testing plant in Norway.

The OPAS equipment operates at a high controlled combustion temperature and is fully computerised. It will dispose of most types of common waste, including wastes with a moisture content of up to 60%. Markets for the technology include biomass of all types, food process wastes and animal wastes, medical wastes, municipal wastes, rubber/tyres and sewage sludge.

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