Yet another new kid on the block

A new compact energy solution has been launched that will enable hospitals to turn contaminated syringes and other medical devices into heat.

DPS Global has unveiled its ST Series, which offers health trusts an alternative to sending clinical waste to landfill.

The technology involves staged and separated pyrolysis and gasification of healthcare waste to produce small amounts of ash and heat. This enables hospitals to utilise their waste as a substitute for fossil fuels, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and heating bills by as much as £100,000 a year.

The technology also significantly reduces the cost of waste disposal by diverting it from landfill or incineration and through its capability to be positioned close to the source of waste. Collection of waste for incineration can cost as much as £1,000 per tonne for clinical waste. Comparatively the ST series technology treatment cost is much lower, around £150-£250 per tonne.

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This is yet another new kid on the block, but one that will not be tested in West Africa. However, it certainly needs to be considered alongside other new contenders, as the proposal is for local treatment at the site of arising.

The ST series can process up to 250kg an hour and generating heat output of up to 700kWth. It accepts around 85% of the European waste catalogue of materials with no pre-treatment required and can also be easily integrated into existing industrial infrastructure to provide energy for heating and hot water. Quite how much space and operator time it will require is not clear, but to manage the output of even a modest sized hospital a substantially greater capacity would be needed, or multiple devices operating in parallel, since shift patterns and staff costs would not permit more that 8 – 12 hours operation per day, irrespective of any constraints imposed by licensing, including those included with planning permission.

This and other similar technologies beg another and quiet fundamental question, can we now ignore the Environment Agency demands to segregate healthcare wastes at source, except when required for reasons of safety (eg, soft and sharps wastes)? It would all go into the same pyrolyser. More waste equals more heat, and there is no sense whatsoever of filling holes in the ground with offensive wastes, carted there in gas-guzzling trucks, when it can be converted to a useful resource just a few meters from where it was produced?

And should we expect the Environment Agency to understand and to accept these key changes, and to moderate their rules and regulations in light of technological developments?

Another one to watch




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