ABSL agrees to develop five UK gasification plants to turn waste to fuel

Article by Adam Duckett

ADVANCED BIOFUEL SOLUTIONS (ABSL) has signed an agreement with biofuels supplier Greenergy to construct up to five plants in the UK that will turn domestic waste into vehicle fuel.

Design work is under way for a first plant planned for Ellesmere Port near Liverpool that would convert 133,000 t/y of waste into hydrogen or methane for use in vehicles. The partners, who have signed a joint development agreement, say the first plant will begin commercial production in 2025. They have not announced the locations or production schedules for the remaining plants. The plant will use waste known as refuse-derived fuel (RDF), which is a pre-treated feedstock produced from non-recyclable household waste.

The heart of the plant is a gasification process called RadGas that ABSL has developed. This uses an oxy-steam fluidised bed to convert waste into what the company describes as a “dirty syngas”. This is then fed to a plasma furnace where the tars are reformed, producing a cleaner gas and an inert vitrified slag. The syngas is then filtered, scrubbed and polished. Steam is injected in a water-gas shift reaction to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide. At this point the hydrogen can be removed and ultimately used for fuel, or passed over catalysts to produce methane, which again can be used as a fuel. The resulting carbon dioxide is captured and can be sold for industrial use.

ABSL is currently commissioning a commercial demonstration plant in Swindon that is set to begin production in Q1 next year. It will convert around 10,000 t of local waste into biomethane that will be fed into the grid and used to fuel buses and trucks. It will also produce 6,000 t of CO2 that will be liquefied and sold to industry and 400 t of vitrified ash for use as aggregate. The company says that the process has been operated for more than 3,500 hours at pilot scale, and describes it as omnivorous due its ability to process a wide variety of feedstocks including municipal waste, dried biomass, shredded wood, tyre crumb, and used cooking oil.

Commenting on the new partnership with Greenergy, ABSL Chairman Nathan Burkey said: “Today’s announcement enables ABSL to accelerate significantly the speed and scale of the deployment of our RadGas technology. The partnership brings together cutting-edge technology with the experience of large-scale fuel production and distribution to produce low-carbon fuels for transport critical to achieving net zero.”

The region around Ellesmere Port has numerous waste plants in operation and under development. These include the combined heat and power plant operated by Viridor in Runcorn that has the capacity to burn up to 1.1m t/y of RDF; and the 54 ha Protos industrial hub in Ellesmere Port that already has facilities to recycle waste wood and produce power from waste wood, and plans for plants that will produce electricity, methane and hydrogen from wastes including unrecyclable plastics.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

Recent Editions

Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.