Energy from waste is a growing market in the UK and Europe, as businesses and energy providers search for alternative uses to fossil fuels.
One of the fastest growing forms of energy from waste is SRF, or solid recovered fuel, which transforms residual waste into a fuel that provides heat and power, guaranteeing that the remaining energy value will be used at the highest efficiency.
By far the largest current use of this type of fuel is in the industrial sector. Cement manufacturers in the UK are burning between 30,000 tonnes and 250,000 tonnes of SRF to fire their kilns every year. But burning SRF not only reduces reliance on fossil fuels to provide heat and power, it also diverts waste, which would otherwise be sent to landfill.
Shredding specialists Mach Tech Services has seen sales of its primary and secondary shredders rocket over the past four years, as more companies recognise the benefits of investing in the technology to produce energy from waste.
The Lancashire-based company is the UK and Ireland distributor for Lindner Recycling Tech of Austria, manufacturers of industrial shredding machinery. The company installed its first SRF shredder at Birmingham-based Premier Waste UK three years ago and has just completed its 60th installation – at the same company.
Mach Tech Services national sales manager Martin Davies attributes the growth of energy from waste to the escalating costs of landfill tax. “For many waste management companies it’s not just a case of making money, it’s about saving the business,” says Davies. “Landfill tax has gone up £8 a tonne a year every year, so waste management companies are being forced to find an alternative that is an economically and environmentally viable way of handling residual waste. SRF is providing that solution.”
The key to good SRF is high calorific value combined with low moisture, so the production of the SRF must be of a very high standard to be effective.
In addition, SRF has to achieve specific environmental and technical quality criteria in order to meet a European SRF standard; so the quality of the SRF to fuel the kilns is essential. Unlike its cousin RDF (refuse derived fuel) which is a much coarser type of fuel with a lower calorific value and higher moisture content, SRF must be made to a much cleaner and higher specification.
Waste recycling companies dealing with SRF therefore require a very high standard shredding technology to produce the fuel.
Premier Waste UK operations manager Mark Jones says efficiency and the consistency of particle size are key to ensuring high quality SRF. “When we separate materials that come to site, the fraction size can be anything from 500mm down,” says Jones. “We need to reduce that to 30mm to make it suitable for SRF. So we need a secondary shredder that is capable of doing that on a consistent basis in a cost-effective way.”
Premier Waste now operates two secondary shredders – the Komet 2800 – to produce SRF. “We did our research and found that Mach Tech Services were the most experienced company in this form of shredder,” Jones says. “We have to have the minimum amount of downtime possible and we need a consistency of material. The Komet 2800 is a trusted brand that we know does the job perfectly.”
Mach Tech Services sell a range of Lindner primary and secondary shredders across a number of different markets including plastics, metals and wood. With over 40 years in the industry, Lindner is at the forefront of shredding technology, and manufacture equipment that is used globally.
For Mach Tech Services, SRF is by far the biggest market and there are seven single-shaft shredders in the Komet range, which process between three and 20 tonnes of material an hour for the SRF market. Davies added: “Lindner has more experience than any other company worldwide in this market place, so we know the shredders we are selling can do the job that is required.”
What shredder a business requires comes down to a number of factors, but throughput requirement is a key factor, as is reliability. “Our customers are producing a product, not just disposing of waste. They are actually manufacturing a product with an end market, so reliability is a key factor,” says Davies.
“Our customers are entering into contracts with their customers to provide thousands of tonnes of SRF to them a year. We have to be confident that our machines allow our customers to sign those contracts, knowing they won’t be let down.”
CASE STUDY ONE: Premier Waste UK
Premier Waste UK, based in Perry Barr, Birmingham, has been running a waste management business for 25 years. It moved into the SRF market four years ago, when it began supplying SRF to cement manufacturer Cemex, based in Rugby, Warwickshire.
It now supplies more than 60,000 tonnes of SRF a year across the UK and Europe, employing around 70 staff. Operations manager Mark Jones says: “We see SRF as a growing market for the future and ideally we would like to make our own material that generates energy for us. We currently recycle 98.6% of everything that comes onto site. We would like to be completely self-sufficient and achieve 100% recycling rates, by generating our own energy from SRF.”
CASE STUDY TWO: Junction 25 Recycling
Waste Management Company Junction 25 Recycling (J25) has recently entered the SRF market with the purchase of a Komet 2800 supplied by Mach Tech Services.
The company is aiming to produce 50,000 tonnes of SRF in 2012 and 75,000 tonnes in 2013, produced from commercial and industrial waste recovered at their northwest facility, to be shipped to cement kilns across Europe.
Site director Bob Thomson says: “We have just started producing SRF flock for the cement industry with the Komet shredder. Delivery times and quality equipment made Komet and Mach Tech our first choice, as it gave us the confidence to sign up to a supply contract.
He adds: “Linder are recognised leaders in the manufacture of this type of equipment and I know it will give the high quality output required by our customers. I think the UK will see the SRF market increase over the coming years and robust consistent secondary shredders will be the key to the success of the SRF in the UK.”
David Ingham is operations director at Mach Tech Services