POWER IN WASTE
An Irish company is to raise up to €9 million to commercially develop a technology that turns sewage and waste sludge into power. The Sunday Times claimed that energy from waste would be the “holy grail” of the renewable sector, combining the safe handling of hazardous waste with the creation of surplus energy.
SCFI , based in Cork , says its system can treat sewage and chemical sludge in an odourless, smoke-free way that create heat that can be converted into energy. The company is headed by John O’Regan, a green entrepreneur who sold Envirotech to DCC in 2001 for €6 million and David Kerr, a former chief executive with Kingspan Renewables.
SCFI has signed a partnership agreement with Parsons, a large US engineering firm, to market the new technology globally. It has also agreed a strategic alliance with ProsCon – a division of Rockwell Automation – to help with the design of its treatment plants. The company is projecting sale of €90 million and profits of €15 million by 2014.
Kerr is quoted as saying that the scale of opportunity is driven by increasing concern over how sewage sludge, the main by-product of waste water treatment, is currently being disposed. In the past sewage sludge was simply hauled off in tugboats and taken out to sea but this practice has been banned since 1999.
Since then treated sludge is either sent to landfill or spread over agricultural land. With pressure growing to reduce the amount going to landfill, and with concern also mounting over the possible dangers of using sludge on arable land, the only other alternative is incineration.
SCFI’s AquaCritox process uses water at very high temperatures and pressure to break down the sewage sludge into its constituent parts – this process generates steam which can be converted into electricity. The company estimates that for every tonne of sewage sludge treated, the process will deliver 1MW of electricity.