New pilot-scale facility opens to create high-value products from municipal waste

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Wilson Bio-Chemical1 have opened their Micro Autoclave Fibre Production Plant for turning municipal solid waste (MSW) into biomass fibre that can be converted into a range of useful products. The facility has been developed with the help of the University of York subsidiary, the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC)2 and is based at the BDC’s site just outside York. This new technology aims to divert substantial amounts of mixed waste from landfill and produce a range of chemicals and fuels to replace the use of fossil-resource-based products.

An estimated 47 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) is produced in the UK every year, around 40% of which is sent to landfill3. Wilson Bio-Chemical have developed and installed a specialised, rotating autoclave which can treat the biological portion of MSW (mainly food waste, garden waste, paper and cardboard) with steam and high pressure and convert it into a sterile fibre (Wilson Fibre®). Biorefinery specialists, the BDC, have provided support and expertise in the development of the new production plant, which at full commercial scale can process 150,000 tonnes of waste per year.

Wilson is now working with the BDC and with the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP)4 at the University of York on a variety of projects to test the fermentation process as well as the feasibility for use in bioenergy. They are also collaborating on an EU-funded research project5 aiming to effectively turn this fibre into biofuel as well as high-value chemicals (e.g. butanol, hydrogen, acetone and ethanol)

The Micro Autoclave Fibre Production Plant is an important step in the continuing development of what we believe is a game-changing technology, diverting unsorted MSW from landfill and producing valuable feedstock from a renewable source for the biofuel and biochemical markets,’ says Tom Wilson, Managing Director and Principal Engineer of Wilson Bio-Chemical.

‘We are pleased to be working with Wilson Bio-Chemical on their innovative technology and also pleased that they have chosen to site their new pilot-scale plant at the BDC, in order to benefit from our biorefining expertise and facilities,’ says Dr Joe Ross, Director of the BDC.

The plant was formally opened by Barry Dodd CBE, Chair of the York, North York and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership. The BDC receives funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Wilson Bio-Chemical have won a series of competitively-funded projects to develop applications for their product, including ERDF funding for the Micro Autoclave; Innovate UK and BESTF2 funding for the development of the technology.

 

Note for editors

  1. Wilson Bio-Chemical has 20 years’ experience in the design, construction and supply of steam process systems in the waste industry and many more years in other industries. Their team has developed a commercial system for the conversion of a variety of waste materials into useful products by using clean, dry, saturated steam in large rotating autoclaves. wilsonbio-chemical.co.uk
  2. The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) works at the interface between academia and industry to develop and scale-up new biorefining technologies using biomass/biowaste as feedstocks. Since 2012, their multidisciplinary team of chemists and biologists has worked on over 350 bio-based projects with SMEs, multinationals and leading academics world-wide.biorenewables.org
  3. From ‘Evidencing the bioeconomy’ 2016. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/policy/2016/160726-pr-evidencing-the-bioeconomy/
  4. The Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) at the University of York uses cutting edge scientific methods and knowledge to harness the power of nature for the development of new products and processes to address some of the major global challenges of the 21st century. CNAP has been using excellent science to underpin industrial biotechnology for more than 15 years in projects that encompass plant and microbial sciences for the development of sustainable fuel, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, and to enhance food security. CNAP provides a creative and enabling environment to around 80 staff and students, led by four professors: Ian Bancroft, Neil Bruce, Ian Graham and Simon McQueen-Mason (CNAP Director).http://www.york.ac.uk/biology/centrefornovelagriculturalproducts/
  5. Wilson Bio-Chemical (WBC) will be commencing work on a project to build a full demonstration facility to convert Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) into a suite of high-value chemicals. This will involve the production of butanol and hydrogen as main products with acetone and ethanol as by-products by fermentation techniques using Steam Treated MSW. This £4.8M project is funded through the EU ERANET Plus scheme involving Innovate-UK support in the UK.
  6. The BDC and the BioVale project are receiving £1.79M of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
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