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Plasma Gasification

edieWaste: Private equity firm backs Impetus Waste Management MBO

by Liz Gyekye of edieWaste:

Private equity specialist Agilitas has announced that it has invested in the management buyout of Impetus Waste Management.

Agilitas has not disclosed the amount it invested in the MBO.

Impetus was founded in 2003 and is based in Stockton-on-Tees. It specialises in the disposal of commercial, domestic and hazardous waste. It handles more than 500,000 tonnes of commercial, industrial and municipal waste annually. The company has waste transfer stations in Wallsend and Washington, and landfill sites in Cowpen Bewley and Teesport.

As part of the Impetus’ strategy for diversion away from landfills, the company has recently signed a 20-year agreement to supply waste to renewable energy specialist Air Products.

Air Products will construct and operate an advanced gasification energy-from-waste plant in Teeside. Impetus will build a new waste transfer station adjacent to the Air Products plant, which will be capable of processing 600,000 tonnes of waste per annum.

The plant is expected to produce electricity to power up to 50,000 homes. Longer term, this plant would have the potential to generate a renewable source of hydrogen for commercial use, for example to fuel public transport. The facility is expected to enter commercial operation at some point this year.

Commenting on the announcement, Impetus managing director Richard Lord said: “With landfill sites in the north east likely to be full by the end of the decade, it is vital to find a new approach and I am delighted to be working with Agilitas in the development of a new defensible green business.”

Agilitas founding partner Martin Calderbank added: “Impetus is an organisation at the crossroads of transformational change and we see huge opportunities in helping the management team develop their business in waste to energy.”

Torbjorn Midsem, partner at Agilitas and joining Martin Calderbank on the Board of Impetus, added: “This investment enables Impetus to seize opportunities created by two major trends: the need for new solutions for waste, and the need for new sources of energy.”

27 Jan 2014

Chairman’s Focus: Waste management consultation

In Hong Kong, 43% of the city’s daily municipal solid waste (MSW) waste is food waste – ultra wet food waste (water content is 75% in mall waste and 90% in wet market food waste). The Government insists on burning this water-waste with an incinerator on a scenic island, but the feedstock does not have the required calorific value required for combustion. Previous tests at composting Hong Kong food waste failed miserably due to the low quality and water content, and the test samples were actually landfilled since they were neither saleable nor exportable.

If there could be a mandatory separation for food waste here, placed in a Green Bin (see below example on Santa Monica), then collected Free of Charge by Government contractors, delivered to Transfer stations and garburated into a puree, the food waste can be then poured into the sewage system network. The CEPT system at Stonecutters island alone (there are ten other smaller treatment plants also) can handle 2.45million m3 of sewage per day by 2016. For reference, the current daily load is under 1.3million m3, so 3,600m3 of ultra wet pureed food waste per day would be a negligible load increase. This idea came from a senior technical engineer working for a company that happens to be Government consultants and it is totally viable.

The removal of food waste contamination would leave dry MSW that could form a new recycling industry here – without this, you cannot sort MSW already mixed and contaminated by food waste. Our Government-provided recycling figures are inflated. They pad the figures using imported trash from Europe and America that was being transferred through HKG to China – this only came to light when China erected ‘Operation Green Fence’, leaving many incoming containers stuck here.

The current lack of waste pre-sort requirements leaves food waste to create methane (23 times more dangerous greenhouse gas then CO2) and hydrogen sulphide when buried in landfills. On top of that, trucks drip foul stinking water (again, because of the high water content in local food waste) onto the roads whilst delivering to landfills. Flies and rats abound. The above food waste option, aside from being a much cleaner option, will create sensible recycling industries here. Tuen Mun can become ‘Green Tuen Mun’ instead of the territory’s toilet.

Landfills: viable recyclables are currently being dumped in landfills since they are tainted with food waste and there is no viable local recycling industry. A major portion of the landfilling is construction waste. Whilst 18,000 tonnes of construction waste is hived off to CEDD daily for shipping to China the remaining 3,000 odd tonnes of unusable construction waste is landfilled.

In Belgium a joint venture between APP UK and Group Machiels is building a  plasma gasification plant at the Houtalen Hechteren landfill – this will reverse-mine the landfill back to its pristine state, the recovered metals will be sold, electricity will be generated from the plasma syngas hydrogen and sold to the local grid and the plasma’d soil will form Plasmarok, fused at 6,000 Degrees C into an inert saleable road aggregate. The Government was offered a FREE 150,000 tonnes per annum trial plasma plant and rejected it, as it went outside of their incineration blinkers. This could have been operational now at the Tseung Kwan O landfill.

Incineration requires increased oxygen, frequently the addition of low-grade coal or oil to obtain combustion of wet matter and burns at 850 degrees C. If the burn temperature drops due to wet feedstock dioxins can and do form. Dioxins also form mostly on startup and shutdown of the burner. There are numerous peer reviewed studies of cancers, orofacial child defects, and deaths in proximity to incinerators. These are facts. The Government consistently refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of this salient health matter. The proposed stack height at Shek Kwu Chau will affect the whole of Hong Kong with wind borne toxic pollutants and heavy metal emissions carried on PM1 and PM2.5 particulates that escapes bag house covers and other equipment. Meanwhile, 30% of what is burned by weight remains as toxic bottom ash and fly ash. This needs landfilling, hence the need to extend landfills instead of doing away with landfills. Government officials will start applying to Legco for funding to build mega islands in the sea for new ash lagoons, when Hong Kong is hit annually by tropical storms. Super typhoons like Haiyan are always ready to hit and destroy empty safety promises of protective structures and punish the city with a blanket of toxic ash.

With current judicial reviews and appeals, the mal-thought incinerator option would not appear until 2023, by which time the rest of the world will be using plasma gasifiers for years already. Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, countries that Hong Kong citizens don’t usually consider superior in terms of progress, are moving ahead with plasma projects; Solena Fuels Inc already signed with Pertamina Indonesia for an MSW feedstock plasma plant.

In a plasma gasification plant, plasma gasifiers operate with an initial fluidised bed at 1,200 – 1,500 degrees Centigrade that vaporises anything – construction waste, MSW, rock, metal – into its molecular gaseous state. The dirty syngas is then passed through multiple plasma arcs operating at the temperature of the sun, above 6,000 degrees Centigrade, which destroy any dioxins or other contaminants, leaving only pure hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide is captured and the hydrogen is used to drive turbines to produce electricity. The plant emissions from the hydrogen are steam. There is no ash to landfill.

Alternative processes can add a Fischer-Tropsch backend process that takes the syngas and creates carbon neutral bio jetfuel, bio naptha, bio diesel or bio marine fuel as in the Solena Fuels system. Such systems are used in large-scale plasma plants that are being built in numerous countries, with some in the UK close to completion. The BA / Solena Fuels plant with a capacity of 1550 MSW tonnes per day and produces bio jetfuel is underway in London. (BA has ordered 3 more plants, one more in UK and two in Spain.) Lufthansa / Solena plant is underway in east Germany near the Polish border. A total of 14 airlines have signed agreements with Solena for projects, including Qantas, SAS, Alitalia, Fedex, Alaskan, American, Canadian Air etc. Maersk is seeking planning permission for a bio marine fuel plant with Solena in New Jersey. The US plant in Gilroy, California will supply the US based airlines.

Westinghouse Alter NRG has operated MSW / RDF plasma plants in Japan since 2001. Their Utashinai plant closed recently due to the loss of feedstock contracts to operate the plant. The Government and recently an alliance of Govt friendly academics are misleading the public by implying that the Utashinai plant closed due to technical problems, when the real reason is the lack of MSW feedstock. We challenged the academics, CS Poon from HK Poly U and Irene Lo from HKUST, to produce the evidence of Utashinai failure or retract their statements at an open public meeting in Tuen Mun this afternoon. They rejected the invites and any ‘evidence’ they might have is of course unavailable, still lying in the EPD’s imagination. (Coincidentally, Elvis Au – the prime mover of the incinerator idea from EPD, CS Poon, Irene Lo, and other EPD engineers are all on the Environment Committee of the HK Institution of Engineers, from whence the Alliance of academics has sprung.)

Westinghouse torches will power the Teeside Airproducts plasma plant in UK. The 1,000 MSW tonnes per day plant will open within the next few months. A second plant is also being built by Airproducts next to the first and will supply the UK Government Cabinet office with an 84 million pounds savings on its future energy bills.

Building an incinerator will cost 20 billion, landfill extensions 10 billion, operational cost per year 300 million + landfill management costs, new ash lagoons in sea 15 billion – treatment costs of illnesses caused by the emissions ??$ billion

Plasma gasifier – cost ZERO – funded by the design build operate company – operation cost funded by operator – emissions hydrogen/steam

Coming back to the Green Bin collection of food waste. This has been done successfully in numerous cities in California, especially with Santa Monica, where incidentally the undersecretary of environment, Christine Loh, has a residence. There is no excuse as to why Hong Kong should not take up the idea. By removing the food waste problem and initiating proper local recycling businesses, we obviate the need for an incinerator and the need to extend landfills.

The Government Environment minister previously stated unwisely that they have no Plan B – it’s time for a plan ‘G’ (‘G’ for Green Bin).

James Middleton


8 Jan 2014

Food waste creates methane (23 times more dangerous greenhouse gas then CO2) and hydrogen sulphide when buried in landfills. The delivery trucks drip foul stinking water onto the roads whilst delivering to landfills. Flies and rats abound.

PRWeb: Diesel fuel instead of Landfills

Nashville, Tennessee – Hydrocore, Inc. is contracting with Pilot Travel Centers to purchase diesel fuel produced from an East Tennessee County waste using its proprietary plasma arc gasification technology. Hydrocore’s Elemental Recovery process utilizes the source material to make products and offers any municipality a single source, waste disposal solution.

The Hydrocore Elemental Recovery process addresses the four critical issues of sustainable energy use: climate change, dependence on foreign resources, wealth drain and depletion of fossil fuel resources. The Company has validated its technology over the course of its 12-year history, first at a small-scale (5 tons per day) pilot plant that was sold to Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute in 2000 and in commercial implementations for other industrial clients.

In their first commercial facility called Misty Mountain Resource Recovery (“MMRR”), Hydrocore has contracted with the County to take all their municipal solid waste and to create a reuse and recycling system. Using Hydrocore’s proprietary technology, the MMRR facility will produce diesel fuel that is cost-competitive with petroleum-based products without subsidies. MMRR is permitted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and has begun its Front-End Engineering & Design for the $140 million project.

Hydrocore will provide Pilot Travel Centers approximately 13 million gallons per year of diesel fuel. In addition to the transportation fuel from a proven Gas-to-Liquid (“GTL”) process, the continuous system will recommodify all minerals and metals using its proprietary plasma separation and gasification technology. Hydrocore’s process is enclosed from input waste to output products, which recycles the usual wastes back into the system making any issues with disposal insignificant.

About Hydrocore, Inc.

Hydrocore, Inc., a Nashville, Tennessee clean energy company offers any municipality a single source, waste disposal solution. Hydrocore has developed proprietary technology to process organic and inorganic solids, gases and liquids into clean energy products, fuels and industrial commodities.

18 Dec 2013

WMW: Combined gasification and plasma project in UK receives planning permission

from Waste Management World:

Birmingham, UK – Planning permission has been granted for a waste to energy facility that will use gasification and plasma technology to generate 6MW from waste.

As part of the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) competition to design an economically viable waste to energy demonstrator plant, Advanced Plasma Power (APP) will be providing its Gasplasma technology for the new development in Tyseley, Birmingham.

This project is part of APP’s roll out of its technology following operating experience at a demonstration plant in Swindon.

Supported by Birmingham City Council, the design phase of the project will come to a close in early 2014. This will be followed by the construction phase and the date of 2015 has been slated for operational testing.

APP’s technology combines the two processes of gasification and plasma treatment to produce a syngas. This syngas exits the plasma converter to be cooled and conditioned through wet and dry scrubbers before being used directly in a power island. This comprises reciprocating gas engines or gas turbines to generate renewable energy.

Residual heat is also recovered from the process to be used in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) mode within the process itself as well as for other users in the vicinity.

Feedstock for the facility will be residual household and commercial black-bag waste.

16 Dec 2013

SCGI: Top 10 Facts about the Plasma Gasification of Municipal Solid Wastes

from the Science Council for Global Initiatives:

The scoop: Plasma is a collection of charged particles that respond to an electromagnetic field (think lightning and the sun). In Florida and California, cities are looking at ways to use plasma to obliterate garbage and use the heat to generate power. But initial plans in Florida to build the largest plasma arc gasification plant in the world have been scaled back by about 80 percent. And in Sacramento, the proposed plant has been put on hold because of a lack of details about just how much electricity would be produced and how much trash would be gasified by plasma. But why were folks looking into plasma in the first place? Expert Louis Circeo gives a list of his top 10 reasons for zapping garbage with plasma.

1. It reduces the need for landfills.
Sometimes called “artificial lightning,” plasma can have temperatures that can exceed 7,000 degrees centigrade — that’s three times hotter than fossil fuels and hotter than the surface of the sun.

The plasma arc would instantly convert organic materials into synthetic gas, often called “syngas,” and melt inorganic materials, which when cooled, become rock-like and can be sold as construction materials. With no remaining waste to deal with, landfills become obsolete.

2. Existing landfills could be mined for energy.
In many regions of the United States, it would be more cost-effective to take municipal solid waste to a plasma gasification plant for energy production than to dump it in a landfill. When plasma gasification is fully developed, even existing landfills could be economically mined for energy production, environmental cleanup and land reuse.

3. It’s energy efficient.
Plasma gasification of 1 ton of average municipal solid wastes would send about 815 Kilowatt-hours of electricity to the grid. This is 20 to 50 percent more electricity to the grid than any other emerging thermal waste-to-energy technology. In addition, this amount of power is over six times the electricity required to conduct the plasma gasification process.

4. It’s working in other countries.
Since 2002, two commercial waste-to-energy plasma gasification plants have been operating successfully in Japan. The Mihama-Mikata facility processes 24 tons of municipal sold waste and 4 tons of sewage sludge per day, producing steam and hot water for local use. The Utashinai plant processes up to 300 tons per day of waste and/or automobile shredder residue. This facility produces up to 7.9 Megawatts of electricity, of which 3.6 MW are used to run the plasma torches and the plant, and up to 4.3 MW are sent to the electrical power grid. In Ottawa, Canada, people are evaluating a demonstration facility that is currently processing 94 tons of waste per day, sending 4 MW of power to the grid.

5. It could produce ethanol fuel.
If all the municipal solid waste in the United States was processed by plasma gasification, over 5 percent of the U.S. electrical energy requirements could be produced. This amount of power is equal to the amount of hydropower produced in the United States, or equal to about 25 nuclear power plants. Similarly, the 2007 U.S. Energy Act recommends that “garbage” be used to replace edible foods such as corn to produce ethanol. It was estimated that waste could produce up to 30 percent of the 36 billion gallons of ethanol required by the year 2022.

6. It could produce the most renewable energy.
Plasma processing of municipal solid waste in the United States has the potential to create more renewable energy than the projected energy from solar, wind, landfill gas and geothermal energies combined.

7. It’s clean burning.
Because of the high temperatures, the low volume of gas emissions and the dissociation of organic compounds, gaseous emissions from plasma waste processes are much cleaner than from other kinds of gasification or incineration processes.

8. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
In landfills, garbage produces methane, a greenhouse gas. But if that garbage were sent to a plasma gasification facility, it would not have a chance to produce methane. What’s more, the energy generated could replace energy made at a coal-fired plant. In fact, for every ton of municipal solid waste sent to a plasma gasification facility for power production, 2 tons of CO2 emissions could be reduced from the atmosphere.

9. It gasifies more than garbage.
At least 15 companies in the United States and Canada are actively developing plasma gasification projects. In addition to municipal solid waste, the plants will process industrial waste, biomass, coal, coke and other carbonaceous materials. The plants will produce electricity as well as ethanol, methanol, diesel fuel, hydrogen and other syngas-based fuel products. Construction on some of these facilities is expected to begin in 2009.

10. It has a future.
Plasma gasification could play even more important roles in the fields of clean coal gasification, secondary oil recovery, and oil shale and tar sands recovery processes. Truly. Plasma gasification is an incipient environmental blockbuster, ready to leap ahead of current concepts of waste disposal, energy production and environmental cleanup.

Dr. Louis J. Circeo is a principal research scientist and director of plasma research at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. He has been involved with plasma technology research since 1971, and holds five U.S. patents relating to plasma technology applications.

Discovery Channel Online; December 2008

letsrecycle: APP receives funding for waste-to-gas project

by Tom Goulding, writing for letsrecycle:

Gasification specialist Advanced Plasma Power (APP) has been awarded a £1.9 million grant for commercial trials of the production of its residual waste-derived syngas for use in homes.

The finance is part of a three-year project partly funded by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem).

APP will conduct commercial trials of waste-derived syngas production in Swindon. (letsrecyle)

The project, co-managed by APP, the National Grid and Progressive Energy, a clean energy development firm, will produce low carbon methane, or bio-substitute natural gas from residual waste for use in the UK gas network.

APP will conduct a two stage thermal gasification process at its trial facility in Swindon, which became operational in 2008.

The programme, which is the second phase of a feasibility study started in February 2012, aims to establish whether converting waste-derived syngas to a quality acceptable for the gas network is commercially viable (see story).

The second phase of the trial, for which APP has the received the Ofgem funding, will look at gathering data from the procurement, fabrication, and test operation of the demonstration facility.


APP says that the trial will provide technical and economic data to demonstrate the viability of rolling out the technology on a commercial scale.

Waste for the trial will not be derived from any single supplier, but the company has said that it will be seeking to carry out testing on a wide range of feedstocks.

Work will start in April 2014, and will be split into three phases for building, commissioning, and testing the programme, with an estimated completion date of March 2017.


Letter from NT Concern Group: Waste Management in Hong Kong

Dear Green Groups and Friends of the Enviroment:

Re : Waste Management in Hong Kong

As you may well be aware, under government’s proposals, their solution to Hong Kong’s growing waste production problems are to extend the three landfills currently at Tuen Mun, Twa Kwu Ling and Tseung Kwan O as soon as possible as they are projected to become saturated between 2015 and 2019.  In addition, government intends to build incinerators on an artificial island just off Shek Kwu Chau.

We, the New Territories Concern Group (“NT Concern Group”), a non-politically affiliated group, are concerned with these proposals and have committed ourselves to commission a report to spark national debate and interest in this area.  We went on a fact-finding mission to the Netherlands and to the UK between 16th September 2013 and 22nd September 2013. From our research findings and for the following reasons, we have concluded that Plasma Gasification is superior to government’s proposed incinerator as it is:-

  1. CLEANER as there are no dioxins, fly ash or carbon dioxide discharged;
  2. MORE EFFICIENT in that the syngas produced allows for greater energy potentials;
  3. MORE ENVIROMENTAL FRIENDLY in that the by-product, vitrified inert slag, does not need to be put in landfills and the technology allows for backmining of landfills; and
  4. MORE COST EFFECTIVE in construction and maintenance.  It occupies less land and does not require reclamation of land.

The NT Concern Group aim to build up constructive communications with government so that they will seriously consider alternative technology such as plasma gasification before they commission the construction of the incinerators and expand the landfills and therefore:-

  1. WASTE BILLIONS of dollars of your money;
  2. WASTE HUNDREDS of hectares of Hong Kong’s precious land;
  3. FURTHER POLLUTE Hong Kong’s environment; and
  4. HARM and have an adverse impact on your health and the health of your future generations.

To that end, please find our Waste Management Report for your kind attention. We welcome your kind comments and questions and our Mr. Junius Ho (public relations and spokesperson) and Mr. Vincent Chung (researcher) can be contacted on 2523 3846 and 2106 9824 respectively.

We believe plasma gasification to be a better solution for “Hong Kong: Our Home”, for the environment and for the people of Hong Kong. Government should give Hong Kong a chance. Give ourselves a chance.  Give our future generations a chance.

Yours faithfully,

NT Concern Group


WMW: Thai fuel cell deal for plasma gasification waste to energy firm

Waste management companies using plasma gasification technology are expanding their business and technological portfolio with the growing deployment of the technology around the world – that is, except for Hong Kong. From Ben Messenger, editor of Waste Management World:

London based Waste2Tricity, which plan to implement use plasma gasification waste to energy technology in facilities which utilise fuel cells, has acquired the exclusive rights for AFC Energy (AIM: AFC) hydrogen fuel cells for deployment in Thailand’s waste to energy sector.

Artist's impression of a fuel cell bank. (WMW)

The company said that it already owns the deployment rights for the UK and has secured the right of first refusal for additional territories including Europe and North America.

Waste2Tricity International (Thailand) (W2T has entered into the licence agreement with AFC Energy, making the company the exclusive Thai agent for AFC’s fuel cells for waste gasification applications.

According to the company, deployment of the commercial fuel cell will enable it to establish the technology in the Thai market.

Married to Alter NRG’s Westinghouse plasma gasification technology as the front end conversion, Waste2Tricity claimed that AFC Energy fuel cells create a commercial model that will substantially outperform any other proposal.

Paying for feedstock

The company further claimed that the model will allow it offer payment for waste feedstock, instead of requiring suppliers to pay a gate fee.

This, said that Waste2Tricity, will create a paradigm shift in the Thai waste to energy market, enabling it to establish market dominance with projects similar to the waste to the energy plant currently being built by Air Products in Tees Valley, UK.

“This is the beginning of our thrust into the burgeoning waste-to-energy market in Thailand,” explained Piangkwan Thummukgool, director of Waste2Tricity and project director of the Thailand programme.

“We will be accelerating our programme with the leading technologies for waste conversion and looking to create a hydrogen opportunity for the AFC Energy fuel cells,” he added.

Waste2tricity is projecting the potential deployment of over 230 MW’s of fuel cells in the three projects currently in negotiation, with more in the pipeline.

The deal with AFC was said to be worth some £1.2 million.

4 Nov 2013

CleanTechnica: Waste-To-Energy Plant To Be Constructed In Nottinghamshire

from Nicholas Brown of CleanTechnica:

At the site of the old Bilsthorpe Colliery, a new(ish) idea will be put to use. That is a synthesis gas generator. This plant will collect waste from Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, and surrounding areas to convert it into synthesis gas (also called syngas) via plasma gasification. This gas will then undergo a purification process before using it to generate electricity for exportation into the internal electricity grid. This is an alternative to the more traditional waste-to-energy approach of rubbish incineration (setting fire to piles of rubbish).

This is one of multiple forms of waste-to-energy power plant technologies which have been on the rise.

This facility will process up to 97,000 tonnes of feedstock annually (feedstock is raw material to be fed into an industrial process), and it can generate 16.6 MW of energy. It can both directly accept feedstock or prepare it itself using the materials recycling facility.

Artists impression of the Bilsthorpe plant. (Waste2Tricity/CleanTechnica)


letsrecycle: Air Products EfW facility nears completion

from Tom Goulding of letsrecycle:

Work on a 350,000 tonne capacity gasification plant in Tees Valley is nearing completion, with commercial operations due to begin by mid-2014.

Industrial gas and equipment supplier Air Products will treat municipal, commercial and industrial waste at its energy-from-waste facility near Billingham, diverting it from privately-owned Impetus’ nearby landfill site.

Air Products has not revealed whether contracts to supply waste to feed the plant have been secured, but told all waste would derive from the local area.

The plant gained planning permission from Stockton-on-Tees borough council in August 2011, while environmental permits needed to operate the site have also been granted by the Environment Agency (see story).

Costing an estimated $500 million (£320 million), the facility has been funded almost entirely by the US-based company, with a £260,000 government grant also awarded by One North East in 2010.

The 350,000 tonne capacity Air Products gasification plant will cost an estimated £320 million. (letsrecycle)