03/01/2022 | Spotlight

A Waste Revolution

European companies lead the way when it comes to waste-to-energy initiatives, and it’s thanks to wide-ranging government initiatives and partnerships such as these that it will probably do so for some time.

In a tiny canalside village of a mere 1,000 people where buses run only three times a week, inside a small factory close to a spot popular with anglers and narrowboat owners, engineers have been quietly turning heads in the waste and recycling world. That may have something to do with the fact that they’ve entered a partnership with a global innovation and technology leader in industrial automation and digitalisation with an impressive accelerator portfolio.
But it’s also further evidence of the value of such partnerships and inclusion as the industrial world moves purposely towards a net zero future. The companies involved are Siemens Digital Industries and Xetrov Group, a sustainable solutions provider based in Pollington in the north of England producing a ground-breaking thermal waste converter known as the Clean6 Vortex. The work is seen as particularly significant in the UK where campaigners have been adamant that such targets cannot be achieved without an overhaul of the waste sector.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a group of them recently called for concerted efforts towards decarbonisation, claiming that carbon emissions from waste disposal are being fed by the “unfettered expansion of carbon-intensive energy from waste (EfW) incineration plants”.
The reason the Clean6 Vortex system is turning heads in the recycling and waste processing world is its ability to process previously unrecyclable materials and its efficiency in using the exhaust heat generated by the Vortex to produce electricity, district heating and food production through hydroponics. They also claim that it’s not only 98 per cent efficient in all waste destruction, but requires less that half the waste compared to competing technologies to product power. Importantly, the thermal conversion system is able to “upscale” material deemed unrecyclable and was only previously considered suitable for landfill. The feature that sets it apart from competitors is that the pyrolysis and oxidisation processes instantly volatilises material at temperatures significantly higher than those found in standard incineration plants (1,400 – 1,700°C vs. 800 – 1,100°C). This results in increased efficiency, lower emissions and very low residue outputs. Siemens’ role will be to supply the end-to-end for producing the thermal conversion systems, including the G120 Inverter, the S7-1500 controller, the ET200 I/O for control cabinets, process instrumentation, control products, power supplies. HMI, IOT box, SCALANCE managed switches and further products that are still under discussion. This integrated approach provides diagnostic benefits, such as secure remote access and opens the door for IOT connection.
Xetrov CEO Ashleigh Ruxton, appreciates the technology supplier’s role. “The digital technologies used are the future of machine development, deployment and are important for remote secure connectivity for future proofing our innovative product,” she said, adding: “We have a strong commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability and want to contribute to both the UK and Global zero-landfill targets and a reduction of carbon-based emissions.”
Brian Holliday, Managing Director, Siemens Digital Industries UK, said the benefits of this conversion technology to emissions targets will be huge, adding: “This technology is in sync with Siemens’ own goals of achieving a net zero carbon footprint by 2030 across all our production facilities and buildings globally. We are fully geared and equipped to meet the specific requirements of Xetrov as it continuous its mission of revolutionising waste processing and recycling.”
There are a number of other new and emerging technologies that are able to produce energy from waste and other fuels without direct combustion. Many of these technologies have the potential to produce more electric power from the same amount of fuel than would be possible by direct combustion.
Demands for converting solid waste to energy have been rising along with drives to embrace environmental factors when seeking alternative energy sources. Globally, the so-called WTE market – also sometimes known as EfW (Energy from Waste) – is predicted to grow at a rate of 6.1 per cent until 2026 with revenues estimated to reach €28 billion. Until now, Europe has dominated this market and experts predict that new situation is very unlikely to change in the near future.
Part of the reason is the increasing investments being made within the likes of biogas technology, rising government initiatives, and the many other regional objectives as regards renewable energy.
CO2 Capsol, the Norwegian carbon capture, utilisation and storage company has, for example, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Greentech company Hitachi Zosen Inova of Switzerland to collaborate on initiatives to implement carbon-capture technology at waste-to-energy plants.
The Norwegian experts CO2 Capsol said their research shows that plant operators and key players in the waste-to-energy industry are increasingly looking to carbon capture, utilisation and storage to decarbonise their plants.

Incineration – a brief history

WTE is usually regarded as a method of generating power, particularly electricity, from the primary treatment or processing of waste into a fuel source, either directly through combustion, or via the production of a combustible fuel such as methane, methanol or ethanol. The first incinerator was designed by Alfred Fryer and built in Nottingham, in the UK, in 1874, although Denmark followed suit building one in Frederiksberg in 1903. The first facility in the Czech Republic was built shortly afterwards in 1905 in Brno. Global capacity increased by about four million metric tons per year in thee six years to 2007 when Japan and China each built plants based on direct smelting or on fluidized bed combustion of solid waste.

Author

Brian Holliday

MD of Siemens Digital Industries

Author

Ashleigh Ruxton

Founder & CEO of Xetrov

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