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Making use of waste wood

This year’s National Recycling Award for Best Energy from Waste Initiative was awarded to Carbonarius. Andrea Lockerbie looks at why

Using advanced conversion technology to recover heat and electrical power, as well as other resources from waste wood offered a glimpse of the future to the judges: “We were very impressed with our winning initiative - especially as they work in what has previously been considered a ‘difficult area’ of the industry. The project offers great potential.”

Carbonarius is a joint venture company between the Una Group and O-Gen UK, who in partnership with Mitie developed a new waste wood-fuelled biomass plant, known as O-Gen Plymtrek. The Plymtrek plant has been designed by Mitie, incorporating O-Gen UK technology.

Located at Plymouth, it is equipped with advanced conversion technology to recover heat and electrical power from waste wood. It is designed to generate 4.1MWe with a further 1.6MWth of heat available for export.

The process at O-Gen Plymtrek treats waste biomass including construction timber and broken pallets in an advanced thermal treatment facility to recover resources including clean ferrous metal for recycling, clean non-ferrous material for recycling, charcoal for heating purposes, heat for heating nearby buildings through combined heat and power (CHP), and renewable electrical power.

The plant has been developed using a range of innovative and advanced techniques including an advanced water treatment plant which reuses plant liquors and recycles it to provide process water, minimising water use and effluent discharges.

Plymtrek is built to use a renewable feedstock, which fits with the promotion of renewables by National, European and International legislation, demonstrating the role the plant will have in helping the UK meet its CO2 emissions targets. It is demonstrably Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) and Best Available Techniques (BAT) and redefines performance benchmarks for emissions performance and energy efficiency for treatment technologies in this sector.

Its compliance with legislation and the waste hierarchy has been assessed and confirmed by the Environment Agency through the issue of the formal IPPC permit. Regulator Ofgem has approved accreditation under the Renewables Obligation for the supply of renewable energy from Carbonarius developments.

The Plymouth plant has been designed as a local sustainable solution: taking in arisings from local contractors, generally within a 50 mile radius; and supplying heat and power to local businesses. This means that landfill and transportation of wood waste over large distances is avoided. Its energy efficiency is enhanced by the proposed use of CHP, which could significantly increase the overall thermal efficiency of the plant, once the network infrastructure has been fully installed.

The plant represents the first in a new generation of highly efficient advanced thermal conversion processes, designed to meet the strictest environmental standards – and be a truly sustainable solution.

“We are over the moon to win this award. We as a the team of Carbonarius have spent seven years developing projects, up to the hilt in debt, to make our product go forward. It’s unbelievable that we’ve been chosen. This is something you only dream of.”

David Pike, managing director, O-Gen UK and director Carbonarius

Category Finalists:

  • GreenEfW Investments
  • LondonWaste
  • Northumbrian Water
  • Scottish & Southern Energy
  • Viridor
  • Veolia Environmental Services

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