Power from pollutants

Energy: British company boasts of world-beating waste technology

MUCH of the interest in power generation is focused on the upheaval in the electricity industry. But away from this, a British company is claiming a world lead in converting waste into energy.

Waste Gas Technology, of Romsey, Hampshire, says its ThermoCrack process can provide the typical home with three to four months of power from a tonne of waste. Moreover, adds Kevin Whiting, the company's head of marketing, it offers "a practical, cost-efficient solution to many current disposal concerns, including sewage, tyres and municipal waste". This pressure is likely to increase because many landfill sites are already full and the introduction of the landfill tax could double costs.

ThermoCrack is an advanced, environmentally-friendly technology that uses high temperatures to make waste "crack" into smaller gas molecules and so produce high heating-value gas. It is the result of a research and development programme that WGT embarked upon when it was set up in 1992.

The privately owned company claims the process achieves more than twice the average energy output of conventional incineration: depending on the energy value of the waste material (plastic and rubber waste from tyres rate among the highest sources of energy) between 1,000 and 4,000 kilowatts of electricity per tonne of waste. In addition, it says the efficiency of the process sharply reduces the amount of carbon dioxide produced and so helps control the greenhouse effect, while the typical payback period is about four years, compared with up to 12 years for incineration.

This makes the company confident of winning strong industry interest. It expects to announce the first commercial application next month.

Among the markets being focused on initially are:

q Municipal waste, because the pressure on landfill is so acute that some counties have to ship waste elsewhere;

q Tyres, as they are barred from landfill sites because of health and safety risks;

q Waste from sewage, also excluded from landfill sites because it is biologically active.

The company says the technique also works well on wood, straw, animal waste, plastics and a range of organic materials.

In the process solid waste material is first pre-treated to remove waste that can be recycled, dried, and then granulated to increase the surface area. The resulting small particles are either stored or fed directly to the reactor. (Liquid organic wastes do not need to go through the preliminary stages.)

Just before the material is put into the reactor it is "washed" with an inert gas, for example, carbon dioxide, to remove trapped air.

The technology is notable for using high temperatures without oxygen, which maximises both clean gas production and the potential for subsequent low-cost conversion to direct heat or electrical power.

In addition, many other conversion systems are geared to producing liquid fuels, which are less environmentally friendly and, because they require further refinements, less economically viable.

Finally, WGT envisages that its plants would, at an ideal size of 60,000 tonnes a year capacity, be less visible than those of competitors. The absence of the sort of chimney required for an incinerator, for instance, minimises the impact on the landscape. "Small in size, it is acceptable as a neighbour in many edge-of-city or industrial locations," it says.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Britain's internet habits have been revealed in a new survey
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) - Hertfordshire/Middlesex

£300 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) Watford...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style