This is a relatively new thermal treatment technology which offers the potential to generate a syngas (synthetic gas) comprising mainly carbon monoxide and hydrogen which can then be used as a fuel to generate electricity, to create a synthetic natural gas which can be upgraded and injected into the gas grid, or as a precursor for the production of organic chemicals. The technology has its origins in the use of coal to produce coke (by pyrolysis) and then “illuminating” or “town” gas through the application of steam and heat. The advantage of gasification is that the development of syngas can be more efficient than the direct combustion of the fuel source because the combustion can be at higher temperatures.

Current gasification processes involve heating wastes in a low-oxygen atmosphere to produce a gas with a low energy content that is either separately combusted or is recovered. In some systems, the syngas is combusted in a secondary close-coupled chamber with the heat used to generate electricity via a turbine.

In November 2009, we formed a strategic partnership with KIV, the Slovenian company that specialises in biomass boilers and gasification technology. KIV is not well known in the UK, having traded only in its home country, Croatia, Germany and the Netherlands. The company was identified as part of our world wide review of waste management technology providers and the company's desire to introduce a gasification system into the UK from a company who shared our rigorous process engineering and management principles.

The company was formed in 1947 in Vransko, Slovenia, and was initially based on the development and supply of fossil fuelled boilers. The company then progressed to the development of biomass boilers and as demand for higher output and higher performance units increased, this became the focus of the business. The company now has 30 years experience with this technology, which incorporates advanced systems for fuel handling, air cooled step grates and ash handling.

In the early 1990's the company began the development of gasification; a process based on 5 years of intensive research and development through the operation of a number of pilot plants. The focus here was on close coupled gasification; syngas (methane, hydrogen and carbon monoxide) production followed by oxidation with controlled tertiary air. Further development has moved this to a single module process design incorporating the two process chambers, making the units smaller and reducing costs. The end product is technology which meets the requirements of the Waste Incineration Directive and can be deemed "recovery" under the Waste Framework Directive.

We are also confident that the plant constitutes "best available technology" through the achievement of low emissions, an optimised gasifier design, and flue gas recirculation. Subject to fuel quality, the plant is expected to be defined as "advanced gasification" achieving syngas of >4.0MJ/Nm3. Operating plant has also been equipped with flue gas filtration that virtually eliminates particulates, an important advancement for combustion technologies.

KIV have built over 330 biomass and WID compliant energy from waste gasifier systems. A significant number are used in district heating schemes but of the larger energy from waste plants, these operate on a wide range of fuel sources including; soft car parts, mixed factory waste, paper mill sludge, MSW, RDF and sewage sludge. The wide range of fuel sources is complemented by the wide range of fuel energy values, ranging between 8.0 and 24MJ/kg. Plants are based on multiples of single line capacities of 12.5, 15.0, 18.0, 21.0 and 25.0MWth (45 to 90GJ) input capacity.