This is a waste treatment process that involves applying steam to the waste to create conditions of pressure and heat, typically to either residual, organic or clinical and medical wastes. Organic material in the waste is broken down into either a fibrous material and/or an organic rich solution which can be used as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion. Bacteria and pathogens in the process are destroyed and the waste sterilized.

Following primary sorting and shredding of waste, the material is discharged into a pressurized reaction vessel. When full the vessel is closed and steam is applied until the required treatment temperature (typically in the range 120°C to 160°C) and pressure; the vessel is then maintained at this temperature for a specified period, before the pressure is released and the waste allowed to cool.

Treatment temperatures and pressures are defined by the end product required. Organic materials; food, paper, cardboard and other plant and animal derived materials are broken down in the process and can then be washed from the remaining waste materials; plastics, metals, aggregates, glass etc, which can then be recycled.

Depending on the treatment temperature, the organic fraction will be present either as a fibrous material suitable for use in construction materials or as a biomass fuel, or as an organic rich solution which in anaerobic digestion will generate bio-gas.

We are currently assessing the viability of autoclave technology and will decide in 2010 whether we shall develop this technology as part of an integrated waste management solution.