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New Technology & Products:

1 New tech converts tannery waste into carbon to make green shoe soles

By: The Economic Times

In an initiative that would not only help reduce the industrial carbon footprint, but also successfully embrace the waste-to-wealth concept, a group of scientists have developed a technology to make environment-friendly shoe soles.
Scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Leather Research Institute have developed a process to convert fleshing, the soft tissue of animal muscle and fat, and one of the effluents produced in tanneries, into activated carbon. This compound is one of the major components in shoe manufacture.
Fleshing, which is usually disposed in landfills leading to contamination of groundwater, has become a viable alternative to the carcinogenic carbon black widely used in making soles of high-end leather shoes. This activated carbon not only adds colour but is also used as a reinforcing material in soles. Apart from being cost effective and lightweight, the compound reinforces strength, is flexible, and abrasive resistant.
Patented by CLRI, this new technology is targeted at environmentally conscious leather companies willing to walk the extra mile to reduce their carbon footprint.
This technology is a result of the Zero Emission Research Initiatives for Solid Waste, a network project under CSIR. The institute carries out research to create systems for sustainable development once every five years. The conventional activated carbon does not contain cross-linking agent like calcium oxide, therefore, cannot be used as filler in rubber manufacturing. However, the activated carbon converted from fleshing waste contains calcium and can be used effectively as a filler in rubber manufacturing.
Chief scientist J Raghava Rao says the activated carbon matches the properties of conventional rubber soles. It is lightweight and leaves no imprint on carpets, one of the drawbacks in conventional soles. Carbon black derived from heavy petroleum products was once widely used to make soles. However, after scientists realised its carcinogenic qualities, it was banned and replaced by silica. However, silica is not only expensive but fails to give the intended colour tone.
CLRI director SR Wate says the researchers are also working towards using the technology to manufacture tyres where carbon black is still extensively used.
This new technology can also contribute to the economics of solid waste management. Senior scientist N Nishad Fathima says it will help in internalising the challenges of solid waste as fleshing generated in tanneries is reused by the leather industry.

2 S¡¯pore to use food waste to boost energy creation

By: Today

SINGAPORE ¡ª When it comes to transforming waste to electricity, the sum of the parts is indeed greater than their whole. By adding food waste to the process of turning used water sludge into electricity, twice as much power can be produced compared with the conventional method that digests only used water sludge.
Such technology will be tested at a new facility launched by national water agency PUB and clean-energy firm Anaergia today (June 17) at the Singapore International Water Week Technology and Innovation Summit. The co-digestion plant will be Singapore¡¯s first, though the technology is already in use in America and Europe.
Currently, electricity generated by converting only used water sludge can meet about 20 to 25 per cent of a water-reclamation plant¡¯s needs. With the technology offered by the co-digestion plant, the electricity produced may meet about 50 per cent of the plant¡¯s needs. Used water sludge is a by-product from treating used water. This is anaerobically digested in PUB water-reclamation plants ¡ª the process of breaking down organic materials without oxygen. The resulting biogas is used as fuel to produce electricity.
At the new co-digestion plant, wet organic fraction from food waste will be mixed into used water sludge. The thickened mixture will then be anaerobically digested. The mix can produce more biogas because of the higher calorific value in food waste, said a PUB spokesperson. As the technology is in its testing phase, the plant will be able to treat only up to 40 tonnes per day of combined used water sludge from the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant and food waste collected from an upcoming food-waste recycling pilot in Clementi. It can produce about 6,000kW of electricity each day, said Anaergia¡¯s chairman and chief executive officer Andrew Benedek at the launch.
In March, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu announced plans for a district-level pilot, where segregated food waste would be collected from premises such as shopping malls, schools, hospitals and office buildings for anaerobic co-digestion. Clementi was chosen for its close proximity to the water-reclamation plant.
Food waste accounts for about 10 per cent of total waste generated in Singapore, but less than 15 per cent of it is recycled. Last year, 788,600 tonnes of food waste were generated, of which only 13 per cent was recycled. The rest was incinerated ¡ª a process that also generates electricity ¡ª and then disposed of in landfills.
Speaking to reporters, PUB chief technology officer Harry Seah said instead of incinerating food waste, more energy could be produced when food waste is first processed in a co-digestor. ¡°We think that if we are to segregate food waste properly, segregate it first and produce biogas, then send for incineration, (we will get) more energy,¡± he said, adding that the co-digesting process produces 30 per cent more energy than directly incinerating food waste.
Currently under construction at the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant, the co-digestion plant will be ready in September. Mr Seah added: ¡°The result of this demonstration plant will validate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of co-digestion implementation in Singapore, potentially reducing its carbon footprint and maximising energy production.¡±
If successful, the technology could be used at the coming Tuas Water Reclamation Plant and the National Environment Agency¡¯s Integrated Waste Management Facility.
¡°The success of this project will provide opportunities for a water-reclamation plant like ours to generate enough energy for process use and bring us closer to achieving energy self-sufficiency for used-water treatment in Singapore,¡± Mr Seah added.

3 Re-inventing energy from waste: The evolution from volume reduction to circular economy

Conversion technologies have had a long history in the U.S., transforming from volume-reduction incinerators in the 1950s to sophisticated fuel and energy producing systems today that process, condition and divert waste to extract maximum value. While the ¡¯50s through the ¡¯90s were dominated by mass-burn facilities and modular incineration with minimal preprocessing or separation of recyclables, today¡¯s technologies have responded to the market¡¯s desire for greater efficiency and increased diversion from landfill. There was a brief interlude in the 1970s when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided loan/grant funding to demonstrate processing, gasification and pyrolysis technologies to produce steam, syngas and even ¡°Garb-Oil¡±; none of which worked nor advanced to commercialization.
The global rhetoric on waste diversion and recycling is changing, too, from a ¡°take-make-consume and dispose¡± approach to a ¡°circular economy¡± where materials are repaired, repurposed and recycled instead of going to landfill disposal, turning waste materials into a resource. Many companies are pledging to achieve zero-waste-to-landfill systems.

Processing, recycling and remanufacturing all require energy to run equipment, and if a plastic, for example, can¡¯t be economically recycled, then it seems more logical to use technology to recover the fossil energy in that plastic than landfill the plastics and let that energy escape another use cycle.
Until measuring the circular economy is as well-regarded as measuring recycling rates, waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities need to demonstrate their value as more than just an alternative to landfilling. Many states do not recognize WTE as recycling or grant renewable energy credits, but an increasing number are setting high recycling and diversion goals. The WTE industry needs to adapt and meet the needs of our communities, offering solutions that can be permitted and accepted more readily than traditional mass burn.
Some companies are already offering integrated solutions that include multiple processing stages and back-end technologies. WTE can be paired readily with front-end organics recovery or recyclables recovery. In Montgomery, Alabama, Infinitus Energy is taking in mixed municipal solid waste (MSW), separating out recyclables and organics, partnering with Lafayette, California-based Zero Waste Energy to eventually turn those organics into an anaerobic digestion (AD) system to produce compressed natural gas (CNG) and compost. Infinitus is considering technologies to turn the residuals from the mixed-waste processing into a fuel or energy product. The Swiss company, Hitachi Zosen, which recently acquired AD provider Kompogas, is promoting the use of mechanical biological treatment (MBT) and organics recovery as well as its thermal recovery system for residuals. Covanta, the largest WTE company in North America, has developed a preprocessing facility for its Indianapolis WTE facility that will recover recyclables from the incoming waste stream before the residual is combusted for energy. Covanta also has developed a partnership with Turning Earth in Connecticut for organics recovery and processing, maximizing recovery and diversion from the waste stream. Combining waste processing technologies is not a new concept in Europe, where MBT facilities incorporate solutions to maximize recovery of recyclables, organics and energy from refuse-derived fuel.
The market shows that many of these technologies are complementary, as WTE companies have been partnering, acquiring or developing processing technologies so they can offer more comprehensive solutions. These facilities are long-term assets that help communities achieve waste diversion goals, create valuable products and contribute to the evolution of our circular economy.By Renewable Energy from Waste

4 New Innovative Mobile Technology for the Safe and Environmentally Responsible Destruction of Chemical Weapons

By Environmental XPRT

A UK based company is developing a transportable plasma arc system for the destruction of hazardous and harmful chemical weapons Tetronics International, headquartered in Swindon, has been awarded a contract by government agency the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to develop its technology after a successful concept study phase.
A number of countries have or had chemical and biological weapons programmes. Many of these have been destroyed or are in the process of being destroyed. Some chemical weapon programmes await completion of decommissioning and destruction. The nature of the weapons makes this task extremely challenging. Increasing geopolitical instability heightens the risk of the prohibited use of these weapons and the need to eliminate existing stockpiles.
The weapons are viewed as a particularly abhorrent tool of warfare because of their indiscriminate and horrific effects, the damage they inflict and long term risks they pose long after they are initially deployed, damaging lives and the environment. As such these weapons are banned by the international community under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
Tetronics is a global leader in using plasma arc technology to process challenging waste streams to make them safe. The current demonstration project with Dstl will involve simulated chemical agents and agent precursors being subjected to the plasma arc destruction in a specially designed chamber, to rapidly react or transform the hazardous agents eliminating the hazards. The plasma arc chamber uses intense temperature and ultra-violet light to maximise the destruction of hazardous components in seconds.
The new contract is the second stage of a phased development project led by Dstl. Assuming successful demonstration of the application of the core plasma process in phase two of the project, the next phase will involve packaging the technology to make it transportable, so it can be quickly deployed to different locations around the world.
Tetronics¡¯ transportable technology offers potential benefits over traditional destruction methods such as fixed incineration or hydrolysis operations, and this concept could also have applications for other toxic materials.
Graeme Rumbol, Chief Executive of Tetronics International, said:
¡°This technology has the potential to transform de-commissioning operations. Chemical and biological weapons have the capacity to inflict indiscriminate human suffering. It will allow a new rapidly deployable approach to the safe and environmentally responsible decommissioning of these weapons stockpiles eliminating the potential for prohibited use.
¡°We were pleased with the progress from last year¡¯sconcept studyand are looking forward to continuing our work with Dstl, so we can develop a fully functional prototype as soon as possible.¡±
Stephen Hartridge, Principal Engineer, Dstl said:
¡°Chemical Weapons pose particular technical challenges with respect to their movement, handling and destruction. Plasma arc is an exciting technology that could provide added flexibility over more widely used destruction technologies whilst maintaining critical aspects such as safety and environmental impact.¡±

5 Rubbish futures: can technology help us reach zero waste?

Turning dug-up waste into gas or converting rubbish into building materials are among new techniques that may help end landfill

¡°What do you think happens to the rubbish when you throw it out into the street?¡± asks the Mighty Boosh's great realist Howard Moon.
¡°I don¡¯t know, does it dissolve in the rain like a giant Berocca?¡± replies Shoreditch everyman Vince Noir.
Inconveniently, however, those black bags endure. In the UK half of all household waste, tens of millions of tonnes ends up on the tip face. Waste management processes, such as recycling, have been developed to cut down on landfill and the EU¡¯s recycling targets mean that countries that do not meet their reduction targets may be punished. In order to meet these ambitions many countries (especially in northern Europe) have clambered just one rung above landfill by burning instead of burying.
But technological developments and behavioural changes are bringing us to the brink of a world in which we not only stop burying our everyday gremlins, but dig up those of yesterday and turn them into useful stuff. Where methane-belching landfill sites are replaced by high-tech processing plants that turn trash into building materials, electricity and gas. It seems impossible but a waste-free society could be just around the corner.

The end of incineration?
There are a number of reasons why incineration is one of the least preferred measures of waste disposal, not least because it is inefficient. Typical waste incinerators are 5-10% less efficient than fossil fuel power stations. Incinerators also create their own problematic waste by-products.
British company Advanced Plasma Power (APP) claim to have a solution that is clean, efficient and creates almost no by-products. Their demonstration plant in Swindon is trialling a process that could eventually transform landfill and incineration into memories of a wasteful past.
The APP plant sorts recyclables from general waste, then shreds the leftovers and dries them in an oven. The dehydrated pellets are then put into a cylinder called a fluid bed gasifier, which sounds like something I just made up, but they assure me it is real. There is a bed of sand in the chamber that, when hit by jets of steam and oxygen becomes "fluidised". The highly energetic sand breaks apart the molecular bonds in the rubbish, leaving behind a gas which is mostly hydrogen and carbon monoxide, but also contains ash and other complicated organic materials. This gas is then fed into a compartment where it is essentially hit with a lightning bolt. The massive electrical charge turns it into plasma. This separates out the impurities creating a clean stream of gas as well as a stable, vitrified substance that holds all the potentially nasty heavy metals, APP call it Plasmarok. The UK Environment Agency has approved Plasmarok as a safe material for use as a building aggregate.
A typical plant will process up to 170,000 tonnes of rubbish each year, which is about the same amount collected by Manchester city council in 2012. This would create enough gas to generate 20MW of electricity. The process will use 5MW. The net gain of electricity means a plant could power 6750-9000 homes. Around 20,000 tonnes of aggregate will also be created.
Electricity generation is only one potential use for the end products. The gas could also be fed directly into the national grid. Or used to create hydrogen, which may well be the gas of the future if hydrogen cars become an everyday reality.
But the company has so far failed to get rid of waste entirely. Around 1,000 tonnes of ash that is currently untreatable is produced and will have to go into a sealed landfill site. The company says it is working on uses for this as well.
The challenge for this type of technology is to become self-sustaining. APP¡¯s chief executive officer Rolf Stein says the potential income streams are "endless¡±. He says the process ¡°already offers better returns to investors than conventional technologies [ie incinerators] and this will only increase as the downstream processing options and relevant markets are further developed¡±. The economic case is aided by the payments for which plants would be eligible for diverting waste from landfill.
But William Neale, a member of the European Commission¡¯s (EC) environment cabinet, says one of the problems for incinerators has been that they bind countries into burning waste rather than developing new ways to recycle.
"Once you build incinerators, they are there for 50 years or so and you have to feed the monster.¡± Zero Waste Europe's associate director Mariel Vilella says this technology is no different, describing it as a red herring. ¡°Even if this was safe, would it be sensible to spend so much money in destroying resources that ought to be shared with future generations?¡± A project in Belgium, where old rubbish is actually being dug up, may provide a way for this waste to energy to coexist with recycling.
Digging up the old
Historic landfill is full of useful rubbish, buried before we had the ability or inclination to recycle it. At the Remo landfill site in Flanders, trials have been successfully conducted to show the potential for digging up old waste and separating out material we can use. Around 45% of the buried material is estimated to be reusable. Millions of tonnes of glass, ceramics, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics, paper, wood and textiles lie below, awaiting resurrection. The left overs can be used to generate energy.
Neale says the process is close to being economically viable. ¡°Waste is becoming, in certain circumstances, so valuable that you could actually consider going in to old landfill.¡±
Last month, the European commission granted permission for APP to build a plant at the Remo site. The Enhanced Landfill Mining Consortium (ELMC), a cooperate initiative between APP and other companies, is now seeking investment of €50m-55m (¡ê40m-¡ê44m) for the project. They expect to be operating by 2016.
The big advantage of landfill mining for the energy making process is that it scales it up hugely, enhancing the economic potential. The amount of waste coming in from local municipal and industrial rubbish is nothing compared to how much of it is already under our feet. There are an estimated 150,000-500,000 landfill sites in Europe, holding billions of tonnes of rubbish. The Remo site alone holds 16.5 million tonnes. The ELMC say this would make a plant viable for around 30 years. After this the site could be regenerated. If the process was installed across Britain, APP says it could supply 20% of the country¡¯s gas.
Divide and conquer
Also being trialled at the Remo site is the separation and temporary storage of rubbish. Tom Jones from the ELMC says ¡°this is basically a way to store certain fractions [of waste] which are not yet recoverable today, but we do not want to incinerate them today, so we want to keep them in such a way that we can recover them in the near future¡±. One example is the storage of asbestos, which can be vitrified in an APP plant, turning the old hazard into a safe building material. This only way to make this process cost-effective, however, is to have a large amount of asbestos stored up.
Again, the issue is cost. But Jones says building up large caches of homogenous waste that can be easily dug up will eventually make these approaches possible. Although the approach makes sense in theory, Neale says the EC has concerns about it expanding. ¡°The difficulty that we have legally is that we don¡¯t want to create loopholes. Because although the organisations that are doing it now have got very good reasons for wanting to develop this temporary storage idea, it might be used by others as a loophole to get around the targets for reducing landfill, if they can say ¡®oh it isn¡¯t landfill, it¡¯s temporary storage¡¯.¡±
Technology good, people better
In the end though, people¡¯s behaviour is by far the biggest factor governing how much waste we produce, says Vilella. ¡°To reach waste prevention targets, you need to think of social innovation, not technology innovation.¡± Reduce, reuse, recycle is a familiar adage. But there are very few places in the world that actually do it well.
Primarily, people must be encouraged to reduce how much they throw away, either through smarter consumption or reuse. The impact of correct recycling processes can also be enormous. But Vilella says people must be motivated to be involved.
In the Italian town of Capannori, this motivation came from a threat. In 2005, 60% of the town¡¯s trash was going to landfill. Residents were told an incinerator would be built in order to burn the excess for energy. Knowing incinerators can produce harmful emissions, locals mobilised against the development. By educating the public and providing a rigid schedule for separate waste collection the town managed significantly reduce total levels of collected rubbish and now operates a recycling rate of 80-90%.
"The successful results of zero waste towns in southern Europe can be reproduced in any municipality across Europe,¡± says Vilella. ¡°The key is to set up a new direction away from landfills and incinerators and invest in flexible systems that allow to continuously reduce the waste that cannot be recycled or composted."
Zero waste?
A society with almost no waste is coming. But can we get to zero waste? Joe Ross, director of the Biorenewables Development Centre in York, says we are heading in the right direction and a world of very little waste is conceivable. But zero might be a stretch. ¡°It¡¯s a journey we are all on. When it will happen and to what degree it will happen is very difficult to know. Whether we can get down to zero, that¡¯s a very challenging target.¡±
But Iain Gulland, the director of Zero Waste Scotland, says the idea of zero waste is not so much about how much ends up in landfill, as how much is unnecessarily wasted. ¡°Zero waste is fundamentally about a change of mindset. It¡¯s about seeing all the materials circulating in our economies as resources, not waste, and keeping them in a high-value state for as long as possible. Based on that understanding, zero waste is absolutely achievable.
The end of waste is not a story about technology riding in on a white horse to save us from drowning in our own unavoidable filth. It is remarkable that in the UK, where landfill space is rapidly running out, the municipal recycling rate was just 43.2% last year. With clever social projects, towns such as Capannori have doubled this in less than a decade. As it turns out, the best technology is already available to us.

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