VATIS Update Waste Management . Apr-Jun 2013

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Waste Management Apr-Jun 2013

ISSN: 0971-5665

VATIS Update Waste Management is published 4 times a year to keep the readers up to date of most of the relevant and latest technological developments and events in the field of Waste Management. The Update is tailored to policy-makers, industries and technology transfer intermediaries.

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UNEP warns of emissions link to mobile phone surge

The rising levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and deforestation caused by metal production must be addressed urgently, warns a recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Demand for metals is expected to rise ten-fold as emerging economies adopt technologies and lifestyles similar to richer nations. In 2012, 1.75 billion mobile phone units were sold, of which 53.5 per cent were smartphones that use over 40 variants of metal. The average tablet or Apple iPad weighs 650 g and contains 1.3 g of tin-rich solder. UNEP says the recycling of such electronic equipment has to be radically increased to ensure mining and refining operations around the world do not get out of control. It estimates that 20-50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced annually, equating to 3-7 kg per person.

“As populations in emerging economies adopt similar technologies and lifestyles to those currently used in OECD countries, global metal needs would be three to nine times larger than all the metals currently used in the world,” said UNEP Executive Director Mr. Achim Steiner. “Product designers need to ensure that materials such as rare earth metals in products ranging from solar panels and wind turbine magnets to mobile phones can still be recovered easily when they reach the end of their life,” he added.

As Mr. Steiner suggests, the issue is particularly relevant for the renewables sector, which needs a regular supply of metals and rare earths to survive. Sourcing these sustainably is a key test of the environmental integrity for wind and solar. The use of metals and their compounds cause local impacts from mining and use 7-8 per cent of the global energy supply. Recycling uses less energy than extracting metals from the earth, but it can be complicated and costly. UNEP says mobile phones contain more than 40 elements, such as tin, copper, platinum, silver and gold.

Sri Lanka cautions health institutions on e-waste disposal

Sri Lankan Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayatilleke has issued a circular to all state hospitals and other health institutions under the purview of the Health Ministry in connection with disposing e-waste, a spokesperson said. The circular directs that all state hospitals and other health institutions to dispose of e-waste in an environment-friendly way. The spokesperson said that the institutions should call bids from companies registered with the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and dispose of e-waste according to the rules and regulations stipulated by the government. The Environmental and Professional Health Unit of the Health Ministry will monitor whether the circular implemented by hospital authorities and others, he said.

India accounts for only 0.3 per cent global e-waste

Around 40-50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated globally every year out of which India accounts for just 0.8 million, Telecom Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal said recently at an event organized by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an affiliate of the World Bank, and Attero, a local unit involved in recycling e-waste. The Minister said that there are 23 organized firms in the country that process e-waste and around 3,000 players in non-formal sector, which needs to be brought in to the formal sector.

Slamming the West for their interest in only trade with India, the Minister said those countries should realize the importance of managing environmental impact on consumers in other parts of the world. “Around 90 per cent of the components are imported from outside and they are assembled here. There is no real domestic (electronics) manufacturing industry (in India),” he said. The Minister remarked that end-to-end responsibility to manage e-waste should be fall on those who originally make the product. “Yet, I am very happy that we are talking about end-to- end solution about e-waste management in India,” Mr. Sibal said.

Rules for recycling, sorting aim to cut garbage

In China, the Shanghai city government plans to reduce non-industrial waste that needs processing to 700 g per person per day this year from last year’s 740 g. By 2015, the city government is also seeking to have 5 million families separating wet and dry waste, officials revealed recently. Residents who separate waste and employ legal recycling channels may be offered bonuses through a green account that the city is expected to promote. The government officials said that the city is studying laws to promote residential waste sorting and reduction, including ways to charge locals for waste disposal. A non-industrial waste sorting and reduction regulation is expected to be issued this year.

“Incentive policies will be more effective to encourage residents to separate recyclable waste instead of mandatory measures, given the current legal system and people’s awareness,” said Vice Mayor Mr. Jiang Ping. “We must work out a model in line with Shanghai’s own situation for a well-developed chain of residential waste reduction, collection, treatment and recycling.” Starting in 2011, the city had set a goal of reducing the amount of non-industrial rubbish by 5 per cent annually and realizing at least a 20 per cent reduction by 2015 and 50 per cent in 2020. The daily production of non-industrial wastes dropped from 820 g per person in 2010 to last year’s 740 g, meaning the city cut the amount of residential waste by over 1,000 tonnes per day.

Nepal promotes waste-to-energy and biogas

The Nepalese government’s Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) has launched a Waste-to-Energy Bazaar to promote the recovery of energy from waste among municipalities, communities, non-government organizations, industries and enterprises. As part of the Bazaar, AEPC called on interested parties to submit project proposals, from which ten will be selected for further review. The selected projects will be required to submit business and implementation plans, along with photographs and short videos. All successful entries will be provided project development facilities. The final selection will be based on innovations featuring feasible ideas, the project’s contribution towards building partnerships, sustainability and the ability to be replicated in other parts of the country.

Mr. Samir Thapa, AEPC Assistant Director, said: “Waste-to-energy is a relatively new concept in Nepal, where possibilities of energy generation from large amount of waste produced from various sources are being explored for biogas systems for electricity generation.” Mr. Thapa highlighted the possibilities that the small-scale waste-to-energy technologies such as domestic biogas plants offer to treat organic waste from households as well as commercial facilities such as slaughter houses and hotels. The government will subsidize equipment cost of setting up waste-to-gas initiatives.

Programme to monitor solid waste compliance

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines is supporting the Office of the Ombudsman’s new scheme to monitor the compliance of local government units (LGUs) with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. Under the “Solid Waste Management Compliance Programme” launched on 22 April 2013, the Office of the Ombudsman will recognize the best performing LGUs in terms of conformity with the law on solid waste management, a deviation from its usual approach of investigation and prosecution. DENR will lend its technical expertise to the Office of the Ombudsman in monitoring LGUs’ compliance with the law, and cooperate with other government agencies and environmental groups, said DENR Secretary Mr. Ramon Paje.

The Ombudsman’s new programme works also in cooperation with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and in partnership with environmental groups such as Zero Waste Philippines Inc., Mother Earth Foundation, Eco-waste Coalition and Bangon Kalikasan Movement. The National Economic Development Authority had earlier pointed out that only nine out of 17 LGUs in Metro Manila have submitted solid waste management plans, while only 414 out of the total 1,610 LGUs nationwide have complied with the national plan as of 2012.

Viet Nam gears up to recycle garbage

A report showed that 23 tonnes of domestic garbage is discharged every day from urban areas in Viet Nam and 85 per cent of it is dumped at landfills, with only 15 per cent treated to make compost fertilizer. According to Mr. Nguyen Trung Viet, Chief Secretary of the HCM City Office for Climate Change Studies, about 9,200 tonnes out of the total 23,000 tonnes garbage (40 per cent) can be burnt every day to generate electricity (total capacity 200 MW). HCM City alone discharges 7,500 tonnes of waste every day.

Mr. Masanori Tsakahara from the Japanese company Hitachi Sozen said at a workshop held in March 2013, that his company was considering the feasibility study to build a plant that burns garbage to generate electricity. The 25 MW plant in the Tay Bac Cu Chi solid waste treatment complex in HCM city is expected to burn 1,000 tonnes of garbage every day. The total investment of the project is estimated at US$100 million. If the plant runs 8,000 hours a year, the electricity price would be US$0.05-0.20/kWh and the waste treatment cost would be about US$40 per tonne.

The Da Phuoc Solid Waste Treatment Complex in Binh Chanh district in HCM City treats 3,000 tonnes of garbage every day. Though the facility has modern technologies that aim to treat garbage in an industrial scale, most of the garbage still gets dumped. The problem is that the garbage sent to the complex is segregated and therefore, the garbage treatment plant cannot scale up its operation. While a pilot programme on waste segregation was initiated many years ago one district, it has not been applied in a large scale in the whole city.

E-waste recycling to integrate informal sector

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is launching an initiative in India in partnership with the domestic e-waste asset management and recycling company Attero to collect and responsibly recycle e-waste by integrating informal waste collectors in an organized network. Informal workers currently collect, dispose of and recycle much of the e-waste generated in the country. As part of the Clean E-India Initiative, franchisees will partner in this project and work with informal last mile collectors who will also get trained in the efficient collection and disposal of e-waste.

“Two conditions in India can make it the leader in responsible e waste management,” said Mr. Nitin Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder of Attero, at an event organized jointly by Attero and IFC callad ‘Sustainable Solutions for E-waste in Emerging Markets’. “One is government policy of 2012 that encourages responsible recycling, and the second is the advanced technology that we have developed and patented to recycle electronic assets in an eco-friendly manner that also brings high economic value,” he added. Ms. Nena Stoiljkovic, IFC Vice President for Advisory Services, said, “Increased land and water contamination due to improper disposal poses health risk to informal waste collectors, making it a compelling case for IFC. The lessons learned can also be applied to the solid waste management sector.” The project will set up collection centres and raise public awareness about proper disposal of e-waste. The programme will be launched in four cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. More than 15 leading producers of electronic goods are supporting this initiative.

China orders 90 per cent of lead to be recycled

Chinese authorities have ordered that 90 per cent of used lead-acid batteries must be recycled by 2015 and 50 per cent of lead used in the market must come from recycled sources. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a document to manufacturers and lead users of lead-acid battery, stating guidelines for the recycling of lead in order to improve recycling, reduce lead pollution and regulate the use of lead in the country. The government, the document stated, will continue to eliminate outdated capacities of smaller lead-acid battery manufacturers, besides imposing strict regulations to clean up the production process and promoting recycling technology.

Financial incentives will be offered to facilities that adopt ‘cleaner production’ methods between 2011 and 2015. The document also states that smaller plants closed in 2012 for not complying with environmental regulations cannot relocate to rural areas in central or western provinces. By the end of 2012, only 412 lead battery makers remained in production compared with over 1,700 licensed manufactures before plant closures. Lead recycling facilities also decreased from more than 280 to about 30. The companies that remain have expanded to gain greater market share.

The Philippines revises code for RAC industries

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines has introduced a new code that sets Earth-friendly standards and practices for the makers, dealers and sellers of refrigerators and air-conditioners (RAC) in the country. In a statement, Mr. Juan Miguel Cuna, DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director, said the 2002 code was revised to guide the RAC industry on updated procedures and complement shifting technologies.

EMB introduced the new code in a ceremony attended by RAC manufacturers, importers, dealers, sellers and service providers. The event was organized by EMB’s National CFC Phase-out Plan-Project Management Unit. A core group of technical experts presented the salient points of the revised code at the launch. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) will integrate the revised code in its curriculum for RAC servicing courses. The Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Technicians Association of the Philippines (Ractap) will use it as reference guide for its members. Its members have pledged to adopt the guidelines in the revised code to help Philippines free of ozone depleting substances (ODS).


Polymer sorting for plastics recycling

Plastics recyclers need a reliable method of sorting different polymers in a mixed material stream to provide a high-quality, single polymer output. The Varisort N from S+S Separation and Sorting Technology GmbH, Germany, is a complete integrated system for this purpose. The key to the effectiveness of the machine is a combination of robust mechanical design, an array of near infra-red (NIR) detectors and electronically controlled precision air jet ejection nozzles to identify and remove unwanted fractions with the minimum loss of “good” polymer.

The feed to the system is by a high-speed conveyor on which the material is spread evenly with individual bottles and containers sorted before reaching the detector, where new technology polymer type identification by NIR absorption characteristics identifies material by polymer within the mixed material stream. The NIR detector array evaluates multiple wavelengths providing data for industrial computer-based analysis software, which determines the position of each piece of unwanted material and triggers the precision ejection nozzles at exactly the right time to blow out the contaminant. Unwanted material is removed with the minimum loss of the required polymer or interruption of the material flow.

The modular design using an integrated motor/gearbox drive and precision air injection nozzles contribute to system dependability, minimize maintenance costs and facilitate a wide range of needs to be met economically. Varisort can be fitted with other sensors for metal and colour separation where required, and the provision of an integrated system platform ensures that the product flow being inspected is under control throughout. Typical applications include removing unwanted material when recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and lightweight packaging. The polymers to be rejected from the mixed stream are selected by the user and the self-teaching electronics automatically sets the evaluation parameters to ensure that unwanted fractions are removed with pinpoint accuracy.

Method of recycling fibreglass-reinforced plastics

Astoria Industries of Iowa Inc., the United States, has patented a method of recycling fibreglass-reinforced plastics (FRP). The steps include grinding used FRP material such as scraps with a grinder into a specific length. The grinded material is mixed with a chemical agent to form a composite material, which is then heated to cure the composite material to form a panel. The grinder comprises a housing, with an opening to receive FRP scrap within a mulching compartment. The compartment has a number of knives to grind and mulch the scrap. The plastic scrap is sliced by the knives and a screen is employed to filter out the grounded scrap into a predetermined length. A built-in fan within the grinder helps control the temperature to eliminate any risk of spontaneous combustion.

The ground material is then mixed with other constituents to achieve a proper blend. Such constituents include fixed amounts of polyester resin, titanium dioxide (which gives a white colour to the end product), thermoplastic micro-spheres, and a catalyst such as benzoyl peroxide (BPO) that only initiates curing when heat-activated. In a preferred embodiment, the blend is composed of 35-40 per cent ground FRP, 60-65 per cent resin and 1 per cent thermosplastic micro-spheres. The pigment and catalyst are adjusted as required by the blend. The mixing is done in a mixing device. After mixing, the blend is poured into a mould the shape of which depends on the desired application, such as panels, and cured.

The panels can be used in a variety of applications, such as reinforced core and bulkheads in service and utility bodies, shelving sheets and dividers, tailboards, and boxes. The benefits of these recycled panels include an aesthetically pleasing appearance, lighter weight, higher strength and overall lower costs. The recycled panels were tested independently against 7/16 oriented strand board (OSB) wood core panels. The test results showed a 40 per cent increase in tensile strength, a 27 per cent increase in flexural strength, and a 90 per cent increase in shear strength as compared with the OSB wood core panels.

Fuel from mixed plastic waste

Recycling Technologies, a spin out company of University of Warwick (UW), the United Kingdom, is commercializing a process developed at UW to transform mixed plastic waste into heat and electricity using an advanced fluidized bed reactor, called the WarwickFBR. The mixed plastics are transformed into gas using pyrolysis, filtered to remove impurities and condensed to output a wax-like fuel. This fuel can then be utilized in a suitable engine and generator in place of, for example, diesel.

“The concept of a machine that can be installed into existing recycling facilities to turn what most people regard as waste plastic into electricity and heat in a combined heat and power plant is timely, given the increasing costs of landfill and energy prices,” said Mr. Martin Lusby, who is taking over as Chairman of the Board in the company. There are many environmental benefits to this process, such as a reduction in the transportation of baled plastics, a reduction in landfill and the use of waste – rather than virgin fossil fuels – to generate electricity. The system will produce enough fuel to generate up to 3 MW of electricity and a similar amount of heat. The first machine is due to go into production in 2014.

Recyclable novel plastic from old tyres

The Swedish company EcoRub has pioneered an advantageous recycling processes that results in a new and usable product. The process involves chopping up used tyres into small pieces and separating out the steel and fabric. Then, rubber bits are grinded into a powder, and mixed with plastic. A patented compound strengthens the chemical bonding between the two materials. The rubber-like plastic material that results is used in trucks or as floor covering. Unlike most of the recycled plastic products, the new material can be recycled after use into a similar product. EcoRub has patented the process in Europe and in the United States, and has sold licences to four companies in the United States that are now producing between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes of the material annually, reports Mr. Åke Paulsson, CEO of EcoRub.

Process for increased recycling of inkjet cartridges

In partnership with the Canadian Lavergne Group, Hewlett-Packard (HP), based in the United States, has developed a closed-loop recycling process to turn old plastic inkjet cartridges into fresh, new ones. Lavergne discovered that the plastic from water bottles, along with a proprietary mix of additives, would combine with the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from many of HP’s inkjet cartridges to create a material so close to virgin plastic that it could be used in the existing manufacturing equipment designed for use with new raw materials.

In Lavergne’s plant, first the clean shredded plastic goes into a giant mixer, along with plastic from used water bottles and the additives. The materials tumble for 6 hours to ensure that each 20-tonne batch gets properly mixed. The mixture moves to an extruder, where it is heated to 300°C and forced through nozzles to become plastic strands. These strands cooled by water and then crushed. The crushed material is sent through a de-metallizer to get rid of any non-plastic material. The material goes through the machine up to four times to increase purity. Samples of plastic from each batch are run through an injection moulding machine, with outputs tested to ensure that they are up to ISO specifications. The company also performs additional tests to ensure the plastic can endure the high temperatures generated in a print-head. The now-pristine recycled plastic that has passed the tests becomes the material for new inkjet cartridges.

Agro-waste bolsters plastics recycling

In a development that could greatly improve the quality of recycled plastics, Qatar University’s Centre for Advanced Materials (CAM), Qatar, has made progress in research to produce recycled polymer composites that are cheaper than pure synthetic fibre composites but have superior properties. Date palm wood flour and date palm leaf fibre, which are abundantly available as agro-waste material in the country, were added to produce recycled polymer composites that could be utilized for a wide range of applications in different fields, says post-doctoral researcher Dr. Noorunnisa Khanam Patan.

Glass fibre and mica were also used as reinforcements with recycled polymers in the research programme supervised by Associate Professor and CAM Director Dr. Mariam al-Ali al-Ma’adeed. “The combination of conventional polymers with fibre or fillers is an important alternative to obtain new polymeric materials with designed properties to suit the high strength/high modulus requirements, and these are called polymer composites,” Dr. Patan explained. The research comprised four parts. In the first stage, glass fibre was added to date palm wood flour to improve its mechanical properties. In the second stage, recycled polymer composites were prepared using date palm leaf fibre. In the third stage, recycled polymer and mica were used. The mechanical, thermal and morphological properties of the composites were studied in the last stage.


Recycling process for rare earth magnets

In Japan, scientists from Yokohama National University (YNU) and Dowa Eco-System Co. Ltd. have developed a recycling process of rare earth metals from neodymium-iron-boron (Nd-Fe-B) permanent magnets by electrodeposition using choline-based ionic liquids. They also investigated the physical and electrochemical properties of such ionic liquids, and the result showed that the electrical conductivity was dependent on the density of ionic liquids. In addition, it was shown that rare earth metallic species affected for the ionic conductive mechanism.

In this study led by YNU’s Mr. Mai Ishiia, voice coil motors (VCM) were used as the starting materials. The recycling consisted of the following processes: demagnetization, chemical etching, dissolution in amide-acid, synthesis of metallic salts and two-stage electrodeposition. The electrodeposits obtained in electrodeposition Stage I and Stage II using choline-based ionic liquids were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM)/energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The results proved that iron group and rare earth metals can be recovered separately by electrodeposition Stage I and Stage II, respectively.

Leaching out copper from discarded PCBs

Researchers led by Mr. R. Vijayaram at the Department of Chemical Engineering of Kongu Engineering College, India, have investigated a leaching process to extract copper from discarded printed circuit boards (PCBs). Different combinations of acidic mixtures were used for leaching followed by precipitation. PCBs were dismantled, broken into small pieces and fed into a ball mill for further size reduction. The powder obtained was leached by using the aqueous solutions sulphuric acid (H2SO4), hydrochloric acid (HCl), H2SO4+HCl and HCl and nitric acid (HNO3).

The lowest values for the percentage of metal extraction were obtained with H2SO4 while the HCl+ HNO3 mixture showed maximum percentage of copper extraction. Precipitates were obtained at different pH values by neutralizing leach liquors using sodium hydroxide (NaOH). The HCl+HNO3 leach system presented the highest recovery values from the powder feed as well as from the leach liquor. For copper extraction after 120 minutes obtained with the four leach systems, 3.0N HCl+1.0N HNO3 showed the highest percentage extraction (92.7 per cent).

Method to recycle cathode materials for Li ion batteries

Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries are not widely recycled because currently that is not economically justifiable, unlike the more than 97 per cent of lead-acid batteries that are recycled. So far, no commercial methods are available to recycle Li-ion batteries with different cathode chemistries economically and efficiently. At the Mechanical Engineering Department of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the United States, researchers have devised a novel low-temperature methodology with high efficiency to recycle Li-ion batteries economically and thus commercially feasible regardless of the cathode chemistry. The separation and synthesis of cathode materials (the most valuable material in Li-ion batteries) from the recycled components are the main focus of their research led by Mr. Haiyang Zou. The results show that the developed recycling process is practical with high recovery efficiencies, and that it is viable for commercial adoption. Contact: Mr. Yan Wang, Mechanical Engineering Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, United States of America. Tel: +1 (508) 831 5453; Fax: +1 (508) 831 5178; E-mail:

Metals recovery from printed circuit boards

In the United Kingdom, Itrimex Ltd. – a joint venture of Ultromex and Itri Innovation Ltd., a subsidiary of ITRI, the international tin industry organization – has commercialized an efficient process for metal recovery from discarded printed circuit boards (PCBs). The process ensures maximum returns by extracting metals at high concentrations and recoveries. The simple and cost-effective Itrimex process can treat any grade and type of PCBs. The Itrimex process directly dissolves all metals on the PCBs, and then recovers them from the solution. It can also form a new first stage of an existing recycling process, to do awat with mechanical separation of boards and components. The process recovers more than 98.5 per cent of gold and palladium, and also recovers lead, copper, tin and silver – all of which remain unrecovered in smelting process. Lower energy use and carbon emissions make the process environment-friendly. Contact: Ultromex, Riverbank House, Riverbank Road, Bromborough, CH62 3JQ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (151) 334 9681; E-mail:


Plasma pyrolysis for medical waste

The Facilitation Centre for Industrial Plasma Technologies (FCIPT) of the Institute of Plasma Research, India, has developed a pyrolysis system for the disposal of typical medical waste. The ‘Plasma Pyrolyser’ provides high temperatures combined with high ultraviolet (UV) radiation flux to destroy pathogens completely. The system incorporates ‘Completely Automated Safety System’ (CASS), which ensures an operating environment that exceeds all standard safety norms.

The cost of installing, operating and maintaining the ‘Plasma Pyrolyser’ is said to be on par with conventional incineration facilities of similar capacity. The simplicity, lack of moving parts, system redundancy, automation and proven stability of the plasma system ensure very high reliability with minimal down time and maintenance requirements. As the system is microprocessor-controlled, one individual can operate the system. Electricity requirement is a low 1 kWh per kg of charge. With the exception of start-up and shut-down, the plasma field is normally sufficient to maintain operating temperatures. With oxygen generators and co-generation added, the operating cost would be well below any conventional waste processing or energy production system in the market currently, FCIPT claims.

Medical waste turned into fuel pellets

Sharps Compliance Inc., the United States, has patented a process to convert medical waste into a safe and useful fuel and raw material called PELLA-DRX™. The Waste Conversion Process™ (WCP) is a stringent method that renders the origin of the product indistinguishable while removing hazards from the medical waste. PELLA-DRX™ fuel pellets are made of shredded, sterilized and compressed sharps and medical waste. The fuel has a much higher bulk density than the waste it comes from, thus making its transportation economical. It has heat content and combustion characteristics akin to high-grade coals. Properly prepared, the fuel is also waterproof, which makes handling it outside much easier than many other pellet fuels that absorb water.

Cement kilns are some of the largest consumers of fuel resources in the world. In a growing trend, cement kilns are becoming the method of choice for recovering the fuel value from many wastes. Because the ash in waste fuels becomes part of the cement product in a cement kiln, this system is one of the few that that actually consumes all the waste material, both organic and inorganic, turning all the waste into useful product – without any ash, change in emissions and impact on product quality when properly quality controlled and managed. Engineered fuels are the latest step in this trend. The cost savings when compared with traditional fuels can be enormous. Furthermore, the use of engineered fuels can greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The simplest process for making use of healthcare wastes is to incorporate them into engineered fuels for cement kilns. As the metals (such as needles) and inorganic materials found in these wastes do not need to be separated, the cost savings during processing the wastes can be significant. A hospital with its own autoclaves and shredders produce a material that can be fed into the process directly prior to the pelletizer or a secondary fine shredder. WCP is now available for licensing to waste management companies, medical waste processors and end users such as cement kilns. Contact: Mr. David Gossman, Gossman Consulting Inc., 45W 962 Plank Road, Hampshire, IL 60140, United States of America. Tel: +1 (563) 652 2822; Fax: +1 (563) 652 2824; E-mail:

Volume reduction apparatus for infectious waste

Nippou Kousan Co. Ltd., Japan, has applied for patenting compression and volume-reducing apparatus for infectious waste. The apparatus is capable of reliably preventing the release of infectious materials to the outside during compression and volume reduction operations. The apparatus compresses infectious waste that has been loaded into a container, using a compression plate configured so as to be lowered and raised by a raising/lowering mechanism. The apparatus has one or more sterilization mechanisms for rendering infectious materials innocuous. These sterilization mechanisms may be bactericidal irradiation sterilization, electrical discharge/plasma irradiation sterilization, soft X-ray sterilization, heat sterilization, and/or photocatalytic sterilization, depending on the need.


Industrial wastewater treatment system

GE Power & Water, based in the United States, has commissioned its high-performance LEAPmbr membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology at the wastewater treatment plant owned by Procavi S.L., a Spanish poultry processing company. GE’s new LEAPmbr technology will help Procavi improve water quality and double its water treatment capacity without expanding the existing facility. This is the first industrial LEAPmbr installation in Spain.

Wastewater discharge regulations and water quality standards, along with an increase in factory production, led Procavi to expand its existing wastewater treatment plant. GE’s LEAPmbr technology has allowed Procavi to increase its water treatment capacity while staying within the same footprint, accommodating an increase in production without expanding the facility. The previous wastewater treatment plant was producing 600 m3/day, while today it can process 1,200 m3/day, thanks to GE’s LEAPmbr technology. The new capacity of the upgraded wastewater treatment plant is equivalent to the daily water use of approximately 6,000 people. The water, once treated, will be reused for washing within the production facility and for irrigation.

The result of a four-year development endeavour, GE’s LEAPmbr system is claimed to offer the lowest life-cycle costs available of any MBR technology, while also being cost-competitive with conventional treatment. These cost savings, along with operational simplicity and a compact footprint, are from innovations to the popular GE ZeeWeed 500 MBR product line – the most extensively used, reinforced, hollow-fibre ultrafiltration technologies available. Compared with existing GE MBR technologies, the LEAPmbr system offers:

  • A minimum 30 per cent reduction in energy costs;
  • A 15 per cent improvement in productivity (greater water-treatment capacity);
  • A 50 per cent reduction in membrane aeration equipment and controls, leading to a simpler design with lower construction, installation and maintenance costs; and
  • A 20 per cent reduction in physical footprint leading to further reduced construction and installation costs, as well as lower ongoing consumption of cleaning chemicals.

Cultivation of AGS for rubber wastewater treatment

In Malaysia, scientists at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia have successfully made aerobic granular sludge (AGS) at 27±1°C and pH 7.0±1 during the treatment of rubber wastewater employing a sequential batch reactor system mode with complete cycle time of 3 hours. Results demonstrated that AGS had an excellent settling ability, and exhibited exceptional performance in the removal of organics and nutrients from rubber wastewater.

Using a single reactor, the researchers from the Department of Environmental Engineering and the Institute of Environment and Water Resource Management developed regular, dense and fast-settling granules (average diameter, 1.5 mm; settling velocity, 33 m/h; and sludge volume index, 22.3 mL/g). In addition, 96.5 per cent chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiency was observed in the system at the end of the granulation period. The ammonia and total nitrogen removal efficiencies were up to 94.7 per cent and 89.4 per cent, respectively. The study demonstrated the capabilities of AGS development in a single, high-and-slender column type bioreactor for the treatment of rubber wastewater.

New membrane for treating wastewater

A newly developed membrane used to separate waste from water could become important in the treatment of pollutants ranging from acid mine drainage to oil-bearing wastewater, as well as in processes ranging from desalination to kidney dialysis. The technology – which was developed by a team of researchers from Witwatersrand University (Wits), South Africa, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States – will facilitate obtaining pure water from wastewater generated during operations such as, for example, mining, oil and gas exploration and production, and nuclear exploration.

According to Prof. Sunny Iyuke, the Head of Wits School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, who developed the product in collaboration with two Ph.D. students, the membrane module (much like the domestic water filter) could be used to catch wastewater from the mines before it enters drains or the water table. Water flow analytics could be used to track the direction and location of any escaped wastewater, where another membrane module (in the form of a borehole, for instance) could be positioned. The membrane made of a nano-composite gives two products – a small quantity of concentrated waste and very clean, drinkable water. Contact: Ms. Kanina Foss, University of the Witwatersrand, 1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein 2000, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. Tel: +27 (117) 171024; E-mail:; Website:

New technology to aerate wastewater

Fortrans, the United States-based manufacturer of pH monitoring and control systems, has unveiled a new technology to aerate wastewater. The company has designed the new Dif-Jet gas infusion device, which permits water treatment without fouling due to the presence of high solids or dissolved minerals in the water. Fortrans claims the device would be less expensive compared with the commonly used diffusers, injectors and spargers designed for the same purpose. The device can also dissolve gases such as ozone, oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the water, and allow mixing of multiple gases into water as and when required.

Dif-Jet requires less energy and adds more oxygen into water than blower systems or compressed air systems using diffusers. The system does not create bubbles, but rather it infuses oxygen from air or pure oxygen into the water. With Dif-Jet, typical infusion rates of 90 per cent to 95 per cent dissolved oxygen using air and well above saturation levels using pure oxygen can be achieved. The new technology, which does not require filters before gas infusion, will help industries to reduce chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biological demand (BOD) levels in wastewater.

Recovery of copper from wastewater

In the Taiwan province of China, researchers at the National Cheng Kung University have conducted research on an applied electrical copper recovery system to recover copper metal from the wastewater discharged by the copper electroplating industry. The researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Sustainable Environment Research Centre studied electro-treatment of industrial copper electroplating wastewater (copper concentration = 30,000 mg/L) using titanium electrode coated with a thin layer of ruthenium oxide/iridium oxide (DSA electrode).

The optimum result for simulated copper solution was 99.9 per cent copper recovery efficiency in a current density 0.585 A/dm2 and no iron ion. Owing to the high concentration of iron and chloride ions in real industrial wastewater, the copper recovery efficiency was down to 60 per cent. Although, the copper recovery efficiency was not high as simulated copper solution, the technology has high environmental and economic values. The possibility of pre-treating the wastewater with iron is the necessary step, before the electrical recovery copper system, the researchers write.

Rotating disk filter for wastewater treatment

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (Fraunhofer IGB) in Germany have developed a rotating disk filter, which efficiently controls the thickness of the particle layer formed during filtration by rotation of its filter disks. The filter offers new membrane filtration applications, such as industrial and municipal wastewater treatment. The rotating disk filter is a dynamic membrane filter comprising a cylindrical housing, in which a membrane disks stack is attached to a rotating hollow shaft.

By applying a slight overpressure of 0.2 to 1.5 bar, the filtrate is made to pass through the separation layer on the membrane disk outside in and is drawn off through or along the hollow shaft. The particle layer on the membranes is controlled using the centrifugal force field created. This enables the laminar particle layer – adhering on the filter disk – to flow off and the particle layer to be continuously renewed. As turbulences are avoided, the energy consumption of the rotating disk filter is quite low. Contact: Dr.-Ing. Werner Sternad, Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, Nobelstr. 12, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany. Tel: +49 (711) 970 4110; Fax: +49 (711) 970 4200.


Cost-effective and eco-friendly bioremediation

The BRITER-WATER project, funded by the European Union, has brought together key industrial partners to advance the market replication of a novel bamboo remediation system to treat food industry effluent to enable extensive re-use. The process depends on phytoremediation, which involves growing plants in effluent streams and thereby converting effluent into biomass that can be harvested for sale. This is based on the remarkable ability of plants to concentrate elements and compounds from their environment and then to metabolize the various molecules from the effluent to promote their growth.

The process in its entirety is based on Bambou-Assainissement® – a patent-protected advanced technique developed by Phytorem S.A., France, that utilizes bamboo and optimized biofilms for wastewater remediation at low cost, while creating scenic landscapes and producing bamboo culms for commercial harvest. Through the deployment of a rhizome (root) barrier, growth of bamboo is contained. The system can be readily automated, allowing controlled dispersal of the effluent feed streams to maximize both remediation and bamboo growth.

The BRITER-WATER consortium aims to validate the performance of intensified bamboo-based phytoremediation for the food industry grey water applications. Installation of intensified bamboo phytoremediation system at Delifruits, a major soft drink manufacturer in France, will cover 2,000 m2. The system is expected to handle a throughput of 100 m3 of high load effluent per day at the end of the project. The effectiveness of the phytoremediation system proposed has already been demonstrated successfully in wineries and is now being applied for the first time on a large industrial scale. The project will demonstrate that 99.5 per cent of nitrogenous compounds and phosphates in effluent discharges can be cleaned in a cost-effective, eco-friendly manner using bamboo.

Membrane-integrated hybrid bioremediation

Mr. Ramesh Kumar and Mr. Parimal Pal from the Department of Chemical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Durgapur, India, investigated a membrane-integrated hybrid treatment system to make highly hazardous coke wastewater reusable. This could help prevent contamination of air and surface water by toxic compounds such as ammonia, phenol, cyanide, thiocyanate, etc. that are usually released into the environment during the discharge of coke wastewater as well as quenching of coke by wastewater. Apart from these hazardous substances, oil, grease, other organics and even trace elements could be removed very effectively from wastewater by logical sequencing of chemical, biological and finally nanomembrane-based treatments in an integrated hybrid plant.

After almost 99 per cent removal of highly toxic cyanide compounds in a well-optimized Fenton’s treatment unit, subsequent biological treatment units could be very effective. The pre-treatments helped achieve microbial nitrification and denitrification of more than 98 per cent of ammonia. Carefully selected composite nanofiltration membranes could separate ionic trace contaminants from water with a high degree of purification permitting recycling and reuse of the treated wastewater. A selected cross-flow membrane module permitted long, largely fouling-free operation under a reasonably low trans-membrane pressure of 15 bars while yielding an industrially acceptable flux of 80 L/h of pure water per square metre of membrane surface. Contact: Mr. Parimal Pal, Environment and Membrane Technology Laboratory, Department of Chemical Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Durgapur 713209, India. E-mail:

Bacteria and iron work to clean uranium from water

Scientist Dr. John Bargar at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the United States is leading a team using synchrotron-based X-ray techniques to study bacteria that help clean uranium from groundwater. The initial goal of the work was to discover how the bacteria do it and determine the best way to help, but during the course of their research the team discovered that bacteria don’t necessarily go straight for the uranium. The bacteria make their own, even tinier allies – nanoparticles of a common mineral called iron sulphide. Working together, the bacteria and the iron sulphide then grab molecules of a highly soluble form of uranium known as U(VI), or hexavalent uranium, and transform them into U(IV), a less-soluble form that is less likely to spread through the water table. According to Dr. Bargar, this newly discovered partnership may be the basis of a global geochemical process that forms deposits of uranium ore.

The process uses one of the most basic types of chemical reactions known – oxidation and reduction, commonly known as “redox”. The study was conducted at an aquifer at a former uranium ore processing site on the Colorado River, which is the focus of bioremediation field studies conducted by a larger team of scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). As part of their study, the LBNL team added acetate – essentially vinegar – to the aquifer in a series of injection wells, allowing acetate to flow throughout the aquifer around the wells. “We wanted to understand uranium redox behaviour in a living, breathing aquifer,” Dr. Bargar said. They saw a bigger picture, including a molecular- to micron-scale view of what happened to other elements in the aquifer, such as sulphur and iron.

During a series of redox reactions, the microbes dine on the acetate, and then pass extra electrons from their vinegar meal to – among other substances – naturally occurring sulphates. This liberates sulphur from the sulphates. A closer look at the soil, provided by X-ray microscopy images and electron microscopy images, revealed that the sulphur combined with iron in the soil to form iron sulphide nanoparticles, which did the actual work of transforming the uranium. At the same time, organic polymers produced by the bacteria grabbed the transformed uranium and immobilized it. Contact: Dr. John Bargar, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, 2575 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, California 94025-7015, United States of America. Tel: +1 (650) 926 8703.

Aquatic plant that can fight water pollution

In India, researchers from University College, Thiruvananthapuram, have found some plants that could absorb heavy metals from water bodies and render them harmless. The research group at the Department of Botany has managed to zero in on several plants that have the ability to remove toxic substances from soil and water and thus detoxify them, in a process known as ‘phytoremediation’. Recently, the team found that the aquatic plant Pistia stratiotes not only has a high tolerance level for heavy metals but that it can also be used quite effectively in phytoremediation.

The researchers cultivated the plant in small pond inside the College, and later exposed the plant to heavy metals-contaminated water in the laboratory for ten days. They then analysed the enzymes of the plant to find out how well it tolerated the stress. “We found the antioxidant defence mechanism in Pistia to be quite good,” said researcher Ms. Swapna who, along with Ms. Mini, leads the phytoremediation studies at the Botany Department. They found that P. stratiotes could easily absorb copper, lead and cadmium from the surrounding water. “It either nullifies these toxins or keeps them away in small bag-like structures called vacuoles, where they are rendered harmless,” said Ms. Swapna.

System for thermally accelerated bioremediation

In situ technologies such as bioremediation and soil vapour extraction have the potential to play a key role in the clean-up of sites contaminated with toxic compounds. The speed, effectiveness and ultimate cost of in situ systems can be improved using thermal enhancement. Donald Geisel & Associates Inc., the United States, has developed an innovative approach to enhance bioremediation through soil warming. The HeatTrode system employs patented heat exchangers in closed-loop circulation to add heat and oxygen to the contaminated area.

A HeatTrode system will be installed at a Schenectady International Inc. site in the United States and operated for at least 10 months. The Contractor will assemble a package system with complete controls for ultimate commercialization. Initially, the system will be operated in a vapour extraction mode. This system will be compared with a conventional soil vapour extraction system using warm air to thermally accelerate extraction. Depending on soil contamination levels after a period of soil vapour extraction, a decision to switch to bioventing or continuing thermally accelerated soil vapour extraction will be made. At the end of the ten-month field programme, the performance of the system will be documented. Contact: Donald J. Geisel & Associates Inc., 6 Jordan Centre, Clifton Park, New York, NY 12065, United States of America.

New bioremediation process and oil spill clean-up products

Altogen Labs, the United States, has filed a patent application on bioremediation micro-organism isolation and selection methods. This environmental technology is based on the isolation of naturally present micro-organisms in heavily contaminated soil, which allows the acceleration of natural bioremediation processes. Introduction of natural bacteria to oil spill sites can accomplish the degradation of oil contamination in a few months, unlike the natural degradation that would take hundreds of years.

Both laboratory and field tests have shown that Altogen’s site-specific bacterial strains are highly effective for remediation of sites saturated with crude oil and petroleum. The bacteria are cultured in the lab to speed up the natural process and then reintroduced to the contaminated site. Multiple lab studies have shown that after consuming the oil and thus depleting its food source, the bacteria die. No adverse effects of using the live bacteria have been observed. Using functional genomics to perform whole genome sequencing study, Altogen scientists have characterized the newly identified bacteria, and have identified specific biosurfactants and quorum sensing genes that allow the microbes to work for efficient crude oil spill bioremediation. Contact: Altogen Labs, 4020 South Industrial Drive, Suite 130, Austin, Texas 78744, United States of America. Tel: +1 (512) 433 6177; E-mail:

Synergistic system for soil remediation

The Synergistic System for soil bio-remediation from Sea-Chem, the United Kingdom, involves simultaneous application of two different products, combining three common approaches to land clean-up into one simple treatment. Sea Power 101 is a liquid reagent derived from a unique mixture of seaweed and plant extracts. It speeds up the natural digestion of hydrocarbon pollutants – such as oil, petrol and gas – by soil bacteria. In doing so, it effectively combines two treatments:
  • Biostimulation – The essential elements in Sea Power 101 stimulate the metabolism of soil microbes and catalyse their defences, allowing them to operate more effectively in toxic environments; and
  • Bioavailability – The surfactants in Sea Power 101 emulsify hydrocarbon pollutants within the soil, increasing their bioavailability so that bacteria can bind to them easily.

The combined result is accelerated natural degradation of pollutants. A third element introduced into this synergic system, bioaugmentation, involves the addition of billions of new bacteria spores to a contaminated site to improve the extent and speed of bioremediation. BioBoost, the bacterial additive, is mixed with Sea Power 101 as part of the Synergistic System. It is an approach that overcomes the traditional limitation of bacterial augments: that 98 per cent of new microbes perish within the first 24 hours because they are starved of the conditions required to sustain them. Sea Power 101, full of nutrients, gives the new microbes everything they need to survive until they reach their food source: the hydrocarbon contaminants within the soil.

The BioBoost formula contains 11 species of specially chosen bacteria, including: eight Bacillus lines (for low-end, ‘light’ hydrocarbons); two varieties of Pseudomonas (for ‘heavy’ hydrocarbons); and an Arthrobacter (for type-a styrene). All species employ positive chemotaxis to home in on the areas of worst contamination. Contact: Sea-Chem Ltd., Unit 18, Horton Court, Hortonwood 50, Telford, Shropshire TF1 7GY, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1952) 677002; E-mail:

Solar-powered proteins to filter antibiotics from water

In the United States, new research at University of Cincinnati, has developed and tested a solar-powered nano-filter that is able to remove harmful carcinogens and antibiotics from water sources – lakes and rivers – at a significantly higher rate than the currently used filtering technology made of activated carbon. Mr. Vikram Kapoor, environmental engineering doctoral student, and Mr. David Wendell, Assistant Professor of environmental engineering, report that their new filter – made of two bacterial proteins – was able to absorb 64 per cent of antibiotics in surface waters vs. about 40 per cent absorbed by the currently used filtering technology made of activated carbon. One of the more exciting aspects of their filter is the ability to reuse the antibiotics captured.

The newly developed nano-filters, each much smaller in diameter than a human hair, use one of the very elements that enable drug-resistant bacteria to be so harmful, a protein pump called AcrB. “These pumps are an amazing product of evolution. They are essentially selective garbage disposals for the bacteria. Our innovation was turning the disposal system around. So, instead of pumping out, we pump the compounds into the proteovesicles,” Mr. Wendell explained. The new filtering technology is called a proteovesicle system. Another important innovation was the power source, a light-driven bacterial protein called Delta-rhodopsin, that supplies AcrB with the pumping power to move the antibiotics. The main advantage of the system is that its operation is powered by direct sunlight, unlike the activated carbon filter.


Process for smart production of natural gas

Austrian company Krajete GmbH has developed a process based on micro-organisms that enables a very efficient and environmentally friendly conversion of climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen into storable methane. The industrially viable process makes use of a natural metabolic process in the single-celled micro-organisms known as Archaea to generate pure methane, the main constituent of natural gas. This clean solution also provides resource-conserving options for the production of biofuels and the low-cost purification of biogas and waste gas.

This process for the manufacture of ultra-pure methane is suitable for many applications, as Dr. Alexander Krajete, CEO of Krajete, explains: “In addition to its use for the storage of excess renewable energy from solar, wind and hydropower plants within the so-called ‘power to gas’ frame, our process is also suitable for two other industrial applications – the purification of raw biogas to produce pure natural gas and the production of fifth generation biofuels.” Compared with the current methods of making biofuels from (food) crops, this technology has the important advantage of not competing for arable land. The conversion of CO2 and hydrogen into natural gas takes place in a bioreactor – a highly controlled system in which special strains of Archaea live.

Its remarkable capacity for adaptation is what makes the process ideal for the storage of excess electricity from renewable energy sources. If this electricity cannot be fed into the network, it is lost. The fact that excess electricity arises unexpectedly and irregularly poses a great difficulty for all systems designed for its storage, and requires the rapid switchover from an idle state to full-scale production mode. The process from Krajete fulfils this requirement perfectly. In addition, the storage itself requires hardly any energy. Once converted, the methane can be stored passively until it is needed – an important criterion that distinguishes Krajete’s solution from other storage processes.

Capturing SO2 using amine-based solvent

In the United States, the Petrotex Research Centre has carried out a pilot-scale study to selectively absorb sulphur dioxide (SO2) using an amine-based solvent. An efficiency of 99 per cent was achieved in the experiments‚ in conditions for SO2 absorption optimized using Taguchi experimental design method. The inlet flue gas from which SO2 was absorbed was the mixture gained from the stacks of a catalytic cracking unit of Abadan Oil Refinery. As a result‚ the absorber can be used efficiently in oil and gas industry. The absorber‚ being regenerative‚ can be entirely revived at a temperature of 120°C, making the method economical. The pilot has proved to be applicable in industrial scale based on the comparisons that were done with big industry mixtures.

This study focused on reduction of SO2 gas with a selective amino compound solvent called AIT500, which is economical‚ regenerative and stable. The efficiency of the absorber is proved to be applicable and economical in the industry. Owing to the relative simplicity of the process and possibility of producing the exclusive absorbent in large amounts and also the type of the equipment used in construction of the pilot‚ the construction of the pilot plant in industrial scale is feasible at low costs. The results of the research are fully applicable in all industries that use combustion heaters.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) gas‚ a competitor contamination with SO2 in flue gases‚ does not interfere with the absorption process because of the selectivity of the absorber. In the process‚ SO2 is eliminated at ppm levels‚ while CO2 remains untouched. Another important feature of AIT500 is that its flow rates as well as concentration in the process are lower than the usual absorbers while the performance is the same‚ if not better. It need not be pure or anhydrous and in industrial scale performs up to the highest conventional environmental standards. In addition, the United States, the cost of applied amine is about half that of the amine absorbers employed in conventional processes. Contact: Petrotex Company, 16015 Leigh Canyon Drive, Friendswood‚ Texas. TX 77546-3188, United States of America. E-mail:

SO2 and CO2 emission reduction process

In Spain, the Material Science Institute of Seville (CSIC), along with University of Seville and University of Cadiz, has patented a process that allows the capture of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) gases using calcite. The process is based on the reuse of industrial waste rich in calcium produced by multiple industrial processes, and it is performed at room temperature and in open air, thus making it more easy and cheap than other similar processes.

The process allows atmospheric CO2 and SO2 gases to be captured directly from the environment. It combines two sub-processes: the capturing of CO2 through intelligent management of wet waste with a high calcium content and the use of the calcium-rich mineral, calcite (CaCO3), for capturing of CO2 and fixing SO2. The process generates useful materials such as sodium sulphate (Na2SO4), which can be used in the production of detergents, calcite or gypsum (CaSO4). There is also the possibility for designing other processes depending on the product.

CO2 capture using a regenerable sorbent

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a cyclic process for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) using a regenerable magnesium hydroxide [Mg(OH)2] sorbent. The process can be used in gasification plants at high pressures and temperatures for high efficiency and good compatibility with gas turbine combustion, warm gas clean-up and water-gas-shift (WGS, a process to increase hydrogen content in fuel gas). Mg(OH)2 sorbent can be regenerated to maintain activity over many absorption cycles, uses steam from the plant for regeneration, and is tolerant to water in the fuel gas. It absorbs CO2 through the formation of magnesium carbonate and releases water as a product. The sorbent is regenerated to convert it back to Mg(OH)2 for reuse.

The sorbent capacity is considerably higher and the regeneration energy is lower than that of current commercial CO2 capture processes. Enhancements to the process allow CO2 removal at moderate/high temperatures and high pressures, while producing the water concentration necessary for WGS. This reduces the process steam requirement, allowing more steam to be sent to a steam turbine for additional power generation and improving the overall efficiency of the process by several percentage points. The carbon capture and WGS technologies are available for licensing and/or further collaborative research. Contact: National Energy Technology Laboratory, 3610 Collins Ferry Road, Morgantown, WV 26507, United States of America. Tel: +1 (304) 285 4764; Fax: +1 (304) 285 4403.

Making fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere

Researchers at University of Georgia (UGA), the United States, have found a way to transform the carbon dioxide (CO2) trapped in the atmosphere into useful industrial products. The discovery may soon lead to the creation of biofuels made directly from the atmospehrical CO2 that is responsible for raising global temperatures. “Basically, what we have done is create a micro-organism that does with CO2 exactly what plants do – absorb it and generate something useful,” said Mr. Michael Adams, member of UGA’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. Mr. Adams is also Georgia Power Professor of biotechnology, and Distinguished Research Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

During photosynthesis, plants use sunlight to transform water and CO2 into sugars that the plants use for energy, much like humans burn calories from food. These sugars can be fermented into fuels such as ethanol, but it has proven extraordinarily strenuous to extract the sugars efficiently, as they are locked away inside the plant’s complex cell walls. “What this discovery means is that we can remove plants as the middleman,” explained Mr. Adams. “We can take CO2 directly from the atmosphere and turn it into useful products like fuels and chemicals without having to go through the inefficient process of growing plants and extracting sugars from biomass,” he added.

The process employs Pyrococcus furiosus, a unique micro-organism that thrives by feeding on carbohydrates in the super-heated ocean waters near geothermal vents. By manipulating the organism’s genetic material, Mr. Adams and his colleagues created a P. furiosus strain that is capable of feeding at much lower temperatures on CO2. The research team then used hydrogen gas to create a chemical reaction in the micro-organism that incorporates CO2 into 3-hydroxypropionic acid, a common industrial chemical that is used to make acrylics as well as many other products. With other genetic manipulations of this new strain of P. furiosus, the scientists could create a version that generates a host of other useful industrial products including fuel from CO2. When the fuel created through the P. furiosus process is burned, it releases the same quantity of CO2 used to create it, effectively making it carbon neutral, but providing a much cleaner alternative to fossil fuels.


Source separation and decentralization for wastewater management

This publication sets up a comprehensive view of the resources involved in urban water management. It explores the potential of source separation and decentralization to provide viable alternatives to sewer-based urban water management. During the 1990s, several research groups started working on source-separating technologies for wastewater treatment. The question was whether source separation could be a sustainable alternative to existing end-of-pipe systems, even in urban areas and industrialized countries. Since then, sustainable resource management and many different source-separating technologies have been investigated. The book presents a comprehensive view of the current state of source separation and decentralization. It discusses the technical possibilities and practical experience with source separation in different countries around the world. The book is intended for all professionals and researchers with an interest in wastewater management.

Contact: Portland Customer Services, Commerce Way, Colchester C02 8HP, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1206) 796351; Fax: +44 (1206) 799331.

Chemistry of Ozone in Water and Wastewater Treatment

Chemistry of Ozone in Water and Wastewater Treatment: From Basic Principles to Applications discusses mechanistic details of ozone reactions as much as they are known to date and applies them to the large body of studies on micropollutant degradation (such as pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors) that is already available. Extensively quoting the literature and updating the available compilation of ozone rate constants gives the reader a text at hand on which his research can be based. Moreover, those who are responsible for planning or operation of ozonation steps in drinking water and wastewater treatment plants will find salient information in a compact form that otherwise is quite disperse. A critical compilation of rate constants for the various classes of compounds is given in each chapter, including all the recent publications. A useful source of information for researchers and practitioners who need kinetic information on emerging contaminants, the book incorporates a large selection of examples of reaction mechanisms for the transformation of various micropollutants.

Contact: Portland Customer Services, Commerce Way, Colchester C02 8HP, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1206) 796351; Fax: +44 (1206) 799331.


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