The Guardian: Chinook Sciences refines the process of recycling metals
April 30th, 2015
UK engineers have created the world’s most efficient energy-from-waste technology, recycling waste that was previous considered unrecyclable
Engineers at Chinook Sciences have created the world’s most efficient energy- from-waste technology, enabling major recyclers and waste handlers to recover valuable metals and create energy from waste previously considered unrecyclable.
Around 27m tonnes of residual waste remain each year after the UK’s domestic and commercial waste has been recycled. Within this are thousands of tonnes of metals, including aluminium, steel and copper.
With no means to recover them, these materials are typically sent to landfill. Chinook Sciences’ Rodecs technology – a unique gasification system that harnesses thermal power to reclaim metals and generate low carbon energy – stands to transform this situation, diverting waste from landfill and preserving natural resources.
The latest version of Rodecs, developed in 2014 in Nottingham, is its most efficient yet. It allows recyclers to process a wider variety of metals without the need for energy-consuming pre-treatment, and obtain a higher market value for the recovered materials. For example, its reclaimed aluminium typically raises £1,000 per tonne, compared to £50 per tonne for rival technologies.
Rodecs converts 99% of hydrocarbons in the waste into renewable energy (in the form of high quality synthetic gas or “syngas”), recovering up to 1.24MW per tonne of waste processed. The system powers itself using gas and heat emitted during the process, with surplus energy used to generate electricity or sold to the National Grid.
There are already 16 plants using Chinook’s ground-breaking technology. In the UK, metal recycler EMR is using Rodecs to process 160,000 tonnes of recycling residues annually and recover approximately 10,000 tonnes of clean metals, while generating 40MW of electricity an hour, enough to power more than 30,000 homes.
In 2014, Chinook secured a £300m deal in the United Arab Emirates to build the world’s largest advanced thermal energy-from-waste facility for municipal waste. With demand growing rapidly, one of the company’s challenges will be recruiting more highly skilled staff to join its expanding team.