New green Danish technology  

turns household waste into biofuel

2011.07.08

Imagine a future where energy can be extracted from waste. This could be the result of the REnescience research project which the Danish energy company DONG Energy is heading in collaboration with waste and energy company Amagerforbrænding and other parties.

Household waste to biofuel

Promising green technology

REnescience is a new Danish technology, which from initial experiences with a demonstration plant is reckoned to have great potential. The technology transforms unsorted household waste into an energy-rich semi-fluid, which can be used for electricity and heat production, or for producing biofuel. The process also separates out inorganic materials, which can then be recycled.

The process from organic waste to biofuel

Since 2009, RE nescience technology has been tested in practice at a pilot plant at Amagerforbrænding in Copenhagen. The household waste is first put into a rotating cylindrical vessel where it is heated to 80-90°C for around half an hour, before being cooled and transferred to another rotating vessel where enzymes and water are added.

After 15-20 hours in the enzyme reactor, all the organic waste is transformed into a brownish energy-rich semi-fluid, while the waste that cannot be broken down by enzymes – plastic, textiles, metal, glass etc – are ejected into a container, making it relatively easy to sort and recycle inorganic waste.

Efficient storing of green energy

The semi-fluid ‘energy soup’ has many uses. Currently there are attempts being made to convert it into biogas, but it is thought that it can also be converted into ethanol and methanol, which can be used as a fuel for cars and other forms of transport.The technology offers the opportunity to store energy. In contrast to the electrical energy from e.g. wind turbines, the ‘energy soup’ is easy to store, which can have importance for the flexibility and supply security of tomorrow’s energy systems. 

From pilot plant to full scale

The pilot plant at Amagerforbrænding can process around 800 kilos of waste per hour, but the parties involved in the research project are planning a plant that can handle at least 10 times that quantity. If the technology proves itself to be both environmentally and economically sustainable, it is expected that the first REnescience plant could be operational by 2020, when it can become part of the new Amager Bakke waste management centre.

Read more about the potential of household waste on page 46-47 in the new edition of Focus Denmark. For further information about bioenergy and setting up a business in Denmark, please contact Team leader Peter Plesner at petple@um.dk or read more at www.investindk.com.

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