What next for Cornwall’s waste?

The incinerator planning refusal, while considered a good outcome by many, still leaves Cornwall with the same waste problems that the incinerator was intended to resolve.  So where do we go from here?

One idea that we’ve recently been looking into is a process called Thermal Depolymerisation, a system whereby organic waste is ground down, mixed with water and then ‘pressure cooked’ to break it down at a molecular level. Without going into too much technical detail it essentially mimics the Earth’s own oil production system but at a much faster rate.

The end result of the waste conversion is a form of bio-diesel that is pretty much pure enough to be put directly into a vehicles fuel tank. Where this system really impresses is that another by-product is a gas that can be burnt to create the energy required to actually run the process. A self-contained system that requires none, or very little, initial energy input.

Although this process is still being developed and fine tuned, it does look very promising. For example, imagine a scenario where you take your rubbish to the local tip and in return for doing so you have your fuel tank topped up with free bio-diesel.

Organic materials that can be processed  include wood, leaves, grass, food, paper, plastic, paint, cotton, synthetic fabrics, sludge from sewage, animal parts, bacteria, any carbohydrates, or hydrocarbons.  Also included is all agricultural waste which is now burned in the fields or buried.

This video shows a TDP plant in operation and explains more about the process.

Could this be the answer not only to Cornwall’s waste management, but also provide green clean alternatives for our future fuel requirements?

tdp-plant

Thermal Depolymerisation plant.

I have followed energy technology all my professional life. In short – Catalytic Depolymerization is the first technology I have seen which seems able to solve all the problems and seems ready to deploy now with no unknowns. CDP can supply the world’s energy and will not ruin the environment. In fact CDP will also eliminate landfill and not upset the CO2 balance. -Jim Trounson


One comment
  1. The systems which generate alternative fuels are all suspect because the emissions which would have come from an incinerator, are locked into the fuel. These emissions will be released when the fuel is burned. It is difficult to scrub this out in ordinary vehicle exhaust management systems. The much cheaper and proven Autoclave/Autosort/AD system produces Biogas which is predominantly Methane. When this is burned it mainly produces Carbon Dioxide. This can be scrubbed out easily to be turned into gypsum which can be used in the cement and plaster industry. The other advantages of AD are that it produces heat (which like the CPD can be used for parasitic load purposes to run the plant), and it has a residual product in the form of compost/soil inhancer which has a ready market.
    A multiple small unit scheme of this sort has already been designed and costed to deal with all types of waste in Cornwall. This includes agricultural waste, food waste (both domestic and business) MSW and various types of C & I waste.
    The major problem up until yesterday was that the chosen technology of incineration was getting in the way of any sensible discusion of an alternative. It is indicative of the level of educting that is required, that at yesterdays planning meeting, the public speaker who followed me, Mrs. Charmian Larke M.D. of Atlantic Energy, mentioned that an interim solution to reduce landfill and prevent tax was to produce Floc. the chief planner was asked what Floc was and didn’t know, somebody else had to tell him!
    Cheers Rod.

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