New technology shapes the future for landfill

Advanced technologies developed to meet the demands of legislation and the changing needs of the landfill industry were demonstrated last month at a Waste Days event held jointly by Biffa Waste Services and Caterpillar distributor Finning at the waste management group's Poplar landfill and recycling facility near Cannock in the West Midlands. LAWE Editor Alexander Catto reports on the shape of landfill systems to come.

Visitors from the landfill industry who attended the Poplars event held over two days were briefed by Peter Jones, Biffa Waste Services Ltd Director on “The Future of Waste Management”, received an update on the latest CAES – Computer Aided Earthmoving System, from Richard Limer, Waste Industry Account Manager based at Caterpillar Inc and heard about the latest Landfill Power Generation innovations from Finning UK Ltd.

Helicopter and four wheel drive site tours offered an unrivalled chance to see a major waste and landfill facility in action. Biffa also unveiled plans for an on-site waste park, capable of recovering soil, hardcore and wood which also accommodates an in-vessel composting system capable of composting organic waste in line with the requirements of the Animal By-Products Regulations.

Peter Jones said: “By 2010 a combination of Government disposal taxes and gate fees will render new technologies, such as the ones we have demonstrated, commercially viable compared to traditional landfill.

“Companies that fail to anticipate the ramifications of this in terms of end-process and logistics technology will be incapable of accessing the resultant market opportunities,” he warned.

Improved power operations

Plans to increase the effectiveness of landfill gas capture and the efficiency of electricity generation from that gas were also demonstrated with three Caterpillar G3516LE generator sets. Biffa generates 7MW at its Poplars site, contributing to the company’s total output of 93MW.

Alan Chinnery, Finning Power Systems Gas Projects Sales Manager, said: “The new range draws on the proven pedigree of the successful Cat G3500 series engine which is renowned for its robust lower end. All new units feature a specially designed, two-stage, high volume air intake system, enabling efficient airflow and increasing the density of air/fuel charge for maximum efficiency and performance. With advanced ignition and the latest microprocessor controls, the G3500C and G3500E Series engines now produce up to 105kW per cylinder.”

Andrew King, Customer Service Operations Manager at Finning Power Systems, describing the benefits of 24-hour, PC-based remote monitoring systems, says: “Today’s landfill operators are looking for over 90 % engine uptime, and remote monitoring has become an increasingly important part of a full operate, repair and maintenance agreement.”

Bird’s eye view

New technology, in the shape of global positioning technology (GPS), could transform the surveying process in landfill operations in the UK, offering better airspace utilisation, longer landfill life, lower operating costs and improved health and safety.

In the United States, Caterpillar has developed CAES – the Computer Aided Earthmoving System – which brings GPS technology to the landfill industry, eliminating the need for traditional surveys, allowing operators to work more quickly and efficiently.

CAES equipped landfill compactors and earthmoving machines used on site engineering and cell construction employ GPS navigation to monitor the machines in the field, providing valuable data on productivity and location. Machines act as full- time surveyors continually sending topography records with a high degree of accuracy back to the landfill office over a wireless radio link. The landfill manager, presented with a “real time” representation of the changing topography can send design files to the working machine. Up to the minute compaction results, far more accurate than those from manual inspection, can also be obtained. GPS technology also empowers the operator, as a CAES system installed in the cab of a compactor, can indicate graphically on screen how many passes the machine has made over the waste material and indicates when effective compaction has been achieved.

US experience of CAES applied to landfill has resulted in improved efficiency and, according to Cat’s Richard Limer, is welcomed by operators on site.

CAES trials are being initiated in the UK, one at the Biffa Poplars site with a second at another company’s operation.

New Cat equipment

Caterpillar is also introducing a range of new waste handling machines in the UK, including the 930G wheel loader, which features the proven VersaLink loader linkage. There is a high lift version which is stated to increase dump height by more than 17% over the standard version.

Star turn on the landfill front is the new Caterpillar 826H landfill compactor which is working on a Plymouth City Council site as part of a four machine package.

Designed to meet EU Stage 3 emission regulations, the H-series model incorporates several upgrades, including improved cooling system technologies with no need for high ambient or extreme service cooling packages automatic blade positioning and two new blade options. Inside the cab, the new automatic blade positioning system is designed to

reduce operator fatigue and make the job easier. It automatically lowers the blade when the machines is shifted forward and raises it in reverse, improving operator comfort

and productivity.

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