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Vehicle fuel from food waste study by WSP Environmental

A study has revealed the potential to produce four million liters of vehicle fuel from food waste in Teesside.

WSP Environmental Ltd. were commissioned by RENEW to undertake the study examining the feasibility of using Anaerobic Digestion (AD) to manage organic waste arising from the Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton local authority areas. The study was funded by the North East Regional Improvement and Efficiency Programme (NE RIEP) and managed by RENEW.

The study, which was conducted from October to December 2010, has identified opportunities for the collection of food waste from households and the commercial sector to provide feedstock to support the development of an AD facility in the area that could produce Biomethane, a low carbon fuel.

Peter Walsh, Energy Manager, RENEW said: "This study has revealed that there is a good case for the development of an Anaerobic Digestion facility, with a capacity of approximately 30,000 tonnes per annum, within the Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton local authority areas. The new facility would not only provide a recycling facility for food waste, therefore reducing waste sent to landfill, but also produce biomethane which can be used to power council vehicles.

"Most Anaerobic Digestion plants are developed to produce biogas for use in power generation but if the gas is concentrated and compressed it can also be used in vehicle transportation and it’s a very environmentally friendly substitute for regular fuel. The study estimates that from an AD plant of around 30,000 tonnes per annum of feedstock¹s an annual volume of 4.25m cubic meters of biomethane is yielded which equates to 4.25 million liters of diesel or petrol. At the moment Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton councils consume 2 million liters of diesel between them so it would produce more than enough fuel for their needs."

Household waste will form a key feedstock considered for the proposed facility, primarily due to the quantity of material potentially available and the degree of control that the local authorities have over its collection and disposal. This would require the three local authorities to establish new household food waste collections, which could be planned in parallel with the proposed AD plant.

"Of course at the stage we have just identified an opportunity but with further liaison and a collaborative approach that is currently displayed by the authorities then there is no reason why this won¹t be a success. The next stage of the process will be to conduct further work in areas where more detail is required in addition to the information presented within this preliminary study," Peter concludes.

Mike Chicken, Built and Natural Environment Manager at Stockton Borough Council said: "We welcome the opportunity to explore alternative ways to utilise waste as a resource and achieve some positive environmental benefits from what is perceived as a problem. This study has demonstrated that there are technologies available that can change the way in which we operate as an organisation and make a contribution to the low carbon economy that is so important for the area." RENEW facilitates and delivers commercial energy and environmental technology projects across North East England and is committed to ensuring the region is at the forefront of the UK¹s low carbon sustainable energy drive. Working with businesses, communities, investors, regulators and technology suppliers, RENEW helps low carbon energy and environmental technology projects make the transition from development to the marketplace.

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