The British venture aims to bring the technology to market and to become “the most efficient converter of municipal solid waste (MSW) into electricity.”
The conversion of MSW into power has not yet been adopted on a wide scale because of the low efficiency, fears over emissions and waste from incineration and existing gasification systems.
Waste2Tricity says it will utilise new generation fuel cells that will increase the net output of electricity by a minimum of 60% over an internal combustion engine generation system, or by 130% over a steam turbine system. Waste2Tricity estimates that the cost of generating electricity can be less than 3p/kWh (at today’s prices).
The company’s initial target is to build a 50,000 tonne pilot plant that will integrate the available technologies in two stages. Stage One will use feedstock preparation, gasification via plasma arc to produce syngas, heat recovery, internal combustion engine (ICE) and power conversion technology.
At Stage Two, hydrogen cleaning and alkaline fuel cells will substitute the ICE, increasing the efficiency of the system. Waste2Tricity will deploy advanced alkaline fuel cell technology, which a conversion efficiency of hydrogen to electricity greater than 50%.
The company says around 2,100 kWh of electricity can be generated from every tonne of waste currently sent to landfill. Of the approximately 35-40 million tonnes of biomass sent to landfill each year in the UK, Waste2Tricity believes it could initially process around 20%.
The electricity generated by the Waste2Tricity process would be eligible for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), under legislation effective from April 2009.