Article written by Rolf Stein, CEO of Advanced Plasma Power, featured in Waste Management World

Waste management is a critical European issue.  Each year, Europe produces around 3 billion tonnes of waste – equivalent to 6 tonnes per person.  Currently, 67% is either sent to landfill or incinerated.  Neither of these is a popular means of dealing with waste.

Europe’s waste management challenges are moving to a critical stage with a pressing need for alternative advanced technologies and the required framework to drive their adoption and encourage commercial support.  Much of the emphasis to date has been on producing less waste – recycling more and consuming less.  These are laudable aims, and must be strongly supported – but recycling is not the complete answer especially as Europe’s population rises.

There are UK and EU regulatory frameworks to encourage more sustainable waste management.  Costly disincentives to waste – among them the EU Landfill Directive – make disposing of waste an increasingly expensive process. There is increasing recognition amongst policy makers that innovative advanced conversion technologies (ACTs) can help meet renewable energy targets and improve energy security whilst also contributing to Europe’s vision for a zero waste economy. The potential for waste to be treated as a resource is an opportunity that needs to be realised, and the requirement for sustainable waste-to-energy solutions has never been greater.

Advanced Plasma Power’s Gasplasma® technology is internationally patented and combines two long standing and well proven technologies (gasification and plasma treatment) in a novel way to convert waste into a very clean, hydrogen-rich synthesis gas (syngas) and a vitrified recyclate product called Plasmarok®.

The two products from the process, the energy-rich syngas and the Plasmarok® have a variety of end uses making the technology very flexible. The syngas can be used to generate electricity directly and efficiently in gas engines or gas turbines. As fuel cell technology advances rapidly, the syngas will be capable of being used commercially in fuel cells, probably within the next five years, thereby further improving the electrical generation efficiency. Alternatively, the syngas can be processed into synthetic natural gas (SNG) for distribution in existing gas grids or into hydrogen or liquid fuels. The Plasmarok® is a very strong and stable product and has a variety of end uses in the construction industry. It can be cast into tiles, slabs or blocks or can be granulated or spun into insulation material.

A standard Gasplasma® facility is sized to process around 150,000 tonnes per year of residual municipal or commercial waste removing valuable recyclates and creating 90,000 tonnes per year of Refused Derived Fuel (RDF). The removal of recyclates at the front end and the production of a product (Plasmarok®) clearly helps to boost recycling rates significantly. The facility fits into a relatively standard industrial warehouse unit of only some 15 metres in height with a very low exhaust. This enables the facility to be located close to towns thereby offering a community-based solution for sustainable waste management and the generation of clean, renewable, power and heat for local homes and businesses.

As Europe’s waste management challenge is tackled over the coming years, it is anticipated that governments and businesses will look increasingly for efficient technologies which can treat waste in an environmentally-benign way. New EU countries, who are behind their Western neighbours in terms of renewable energy infrastructure, are likely to start investing more heavily in sustainable waste management solutions in order to comply with tough regulations – creating a clear opportunity for clean technology companies. Moreover, tighter regulation of waste and recycling is likely; building on the UK Government’s Waste Review and the European Commission’s Waste Hierarchy.  Currently, the UK alone sends around 40 million tonnes of waste to landfill every year; this does not take into account the two billion tonnes of waste already sitting in landfill which could be mined for resources and fuel. This situation is not sustainable in the UK or across Europe, for social, cost and environmental reasons. Ultimately, the solution will be the widespread adoption of a variety of advanced technologies and techniques.  To deliver this, a transparent, supportive, consistent and above all joined-up legislative framework is required. It stands to reason that those advanced conversion technologies which deliver at the interface or convergence of all of the diverse regulatory objectives in respect of recycling, landfill diversion, efficient energy generation, heat recovery and local acceptability and which in addition offer a flexible platform for future applications should be preferred.

To view this article on Waste Management World’s website please click here.

One Response to “Article written by Rolf Stein, CEO of Advanced Plasma Power, featured in Waste Management World”

  1. The article you posted is very interesting and informative. This type of work on waste removal and waste management must be appreciated.

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