Use the power in your rubbish

2011-12-17 14:17

Imagine if you could take the rubbish lying around and produce fuel to fire up a tractor or power a generator.

This futuristic-sounding technology is not so far-fetched at all.
In fact, if you have R3 million lying around, you can purchase your own personal little fuel-making plant – if you generate three?tons of garbage per day.

The new technology, BeauTi-fueL, was on show for two weeks at COP17 in Durban.

The strategically placed container at the entrance of the exhibition area attracted a lot of attention.
 
The lure of using your waste to produce fuel was simply too good to ignore.

BeauTi-fueL is a joint venture by the Centre Of Material and Process Synthesis, which is based at the University of the Witwatersrand and the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa.

It works by converting waste into synthetic gas using plasma technology – the same technology that brings about a welding arc – in a plasma gassifier at a temperature of 1 500°C.

Thereafter, the gas is converted into liquid fuel at 250°C.

It can handle just about any waste because the technology was originally developed to find a solution to deal with the most problematic of waste – low-level nuclear waste.

You can throw anything into the plant including biomass, municipal solid waste and even medical waste.

Dr Jaco van der Walt, one of the scientists who developed the technology, said the temperatures the BeauTi-fueL plant operated at was high enough to melt the needles and evaporate tissues.

Metals, such as the needles, would simply melt and fall to the bottom of the gassifier.

Van der Walt said BeauTi-fueL is a totally green technology with no by-products.

The container Van der Walt displayed at the show was a small, full-scale unit that would be ideal for small communities that want to power their homes through a generator, or a farmer who wants to produce diesel for his tractors.

At the moment, it is still unwise to power your bakkie or BMW with the fuels, but Van der Walt said the fuels could be used in generators and farming equipment.

The demonstration unit is capable of processing one to three tons of biomass and converting it into one to three barrels of liquid fuelsper day.

The plant was also designed to fit into a 12-metre container and is able to be transported with a truck.

Van der Walt said the plant would be low maintenance, requiring only limited technical knowledge, and with very low running costs.

“A large gassification plant would be able to gassify about 150 to 200 tons of landfill waste every day and can power almost 2?000 homes in the vicinity,” Van der Walt said, adding that the plant was ready for commercial applications.

To get the project off the ground, it would need R10 million as start-up capital, and R2 million thereafter to produce each mobile plant.

Though a unit costs R3 million at current costs, the developers expect that the manufacturing cost of each plant to fall to R1 million.

But Van der Walt believes it’s worth every penny.

He said: “This is a small price to pay for the tremendous benefit, including jobs that will be created.”


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.