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Gasification bid could turn London's waste into electricity

A bid to use plasma gasification technology to generate energy from Londons 21 million tonnes of waste has been made by Waste2Tricity, a company set up just four months ago. The companys expression of interest answers a call from the London Waste & Recycling Board for an energy-to-waste management solution for the capital.

Waste2Tricity has proposed using gasification along-side AFC hydrogen fuel cells to convert rubbish into electricity.

LWRB will make a decision on the proposals this year. If successful, the bid could lead to a £135 million 250,000 tonne a year commercial processing plant for the capital.

Waste2Tricity lead consultant Howard White explained that the technology is already used in Japan at a commercially sized 50,000 tonne capacity plant.

Going up to 250,000 tonnes capacity is the leap of faith the consortium [backing Waste2Tricity] is taking. It shows their confidence in the technology, White said. He added that investors had also conducted due diligence procedures.

He said the increased fuel production efficiency of the gasification process compared favourably with incineration based energy from waste technologies.

With incineration, to produce 1 megawatt you need to use 25,000 tonnes of waste. But with plasma gasification you only need 8,000 tonnes to produce 1MW. And with the added efficiency of the fuel cells this is reduced to 5,000 tonnes to produce 1MW, he said.

White also said that gasification combined with fuel cells achieves 60 per cent efficiency compared with 30 per cent energy generation efficiency achieved by internal combustion technologies. 

The Waste2Tricity consortium includes AFC Energy plc, Alter NRG, and WSP Environmental. GDF SUEZ has expressed an interest in purchasing the electricity produced.

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