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VT Group opens trial facility for wakefield PFI project


Source: Materials Recycling Week

A trial autoclave facility has been opened by VT Group as part of its plans for the Wakefield PFI contract.

The company is preferred bidder for the PFI project and is trialling a full-scale waste treatment facility before building the new treatment centre for the area’s municipal waste at South Kirkby.

The “first of class” trial facility has been built as a smaller version of the final Wakefield autoclave plant in order to fine tune equipment before the real system is installed.

Construction on the final system is to begin at the end of 2010. It will be capable of treating 180,000 tonnes of waste each year. The project is valued at £750 million over the lifetime of the contract.

VT’s environmental head of waste projects Tim Hoare explained: “We will use the first of class facility for a series of tests and trials throughout 2010. This will enable us to fine tune the equipment and interfaces before the system enters full service.  We will be particularly looking at aspects relating to safety, equipment control philosophy, waste composition loads, cycle times, environmental impacts and operational efficiency. ”

An autoclave processes unsorted municipal waste by injecting steam into the system, while the waste is rotated. After an hour the waste is transformed into a sterile organic fibre with recyclates separated out. Once the final South Kirkby facility is built, the recyclates will be sorted and sold commercially, while the organic waste will be treated through an anaerobic digestion plant, producing biogas to fuel the plant and to supply the national grid.

According to the firm, the modular system means that VT can adapt the design to meet different throughput requirements from local authority and commercial customers.

Wakefield Council cabinet assistant for waste PFI Cllr Clive Hudson said: “This first of class facility is an exciting step forward.”

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