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Massive interest but no UK funding for technology- COMMENT UPDATE

A system which turns most waste streams into a highly valuable resource is revolutionising disposal around the world, but has so far been thwarted in the UK.

Thermal Desorption has been proven in the USA and can convert tyres, plastics, sewage sludge, municipal solid waste and even medical waste into a highly valuable fuel, producing massive operating profits. The high temperature system also sends nil to landfill irrespective of the waste stream.

By using a non-oxidising process, it vaporises volatiles and semi-volatiles, with differing temperatures of heat applied depending on the waste being treated. The resultant oils can then be separated and reused as fuels, improving the economics of the method.

Interest in the UK has been huge, with advanced discussions currently ongoing with Viridor Waste Management, with a view to installing the process in its vast network of sites around the country.

While companies such as LG Hudson Consultancy, Smiths of Gloucester and Bandvulc Tyres have also discussed proposals, the major stumbling block is a problem that is endemic of all new technologies entering this country, funding.

Global Advanced Recycling Technology managing director Derek Reffell said: It has been proven on paper; we just need funding to run it for one month. Viridor will let us use one of their quarries to trial the process and once we prove it bankable, the contracts will roll in.

The frustrating thing is that it has been proven around the world but not in this country. People say bring it, show it works and then well pay, but thats a bit like the bank asking for the money back before they have paid it out.

Reffell has spent five years researching and developing the low emissions system and has even turned to the USA for the £1.5 million needed to trial the process.

While his pursuit has so far proved fruitless, he says that multi-million pound contracts with a number of local authorities are sat waiting to be signed. 

A company called Tox Free has carried out a financial investigation and found that by installing a 200 tonne a day plant, it could increase landfill capacity by 700% and the capital value of the company by a factor of ten, with these benefits rising considerably for larger facilities.

The system produces commercially marketable products such as diesel, fuel, oil, ethanol and methanol. And if these are not required, a gas turbine can also be fitted to generate electricity.

A similar system is set to process all medical and clinical wastes on the island of Malta as well as general waste derived from the International airport.

Reffell added: Its a license to print money, but people here arent willing to take a risk. If we can get an investor to put £1.5 million in over four months, we can put a unit up in a Viridor quarry and its all systems go.
13/11/06: Your idea is very good ,I hope your government or financial investor grabs this opportunity to use the waste meterials in a useful way. Tariq Sultan.

06/11/06: My principal concern with this article is the lack of information about the principals behind the technology, and from where they are seeking funding. If they have had such great success in other countries, why are they not leveraging that success in the UK? Would the companies that are successful in other countries not want to participate in the UK? Something just doesn't add up here. Doug Norton, EWI.


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