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The plain fact is that under present technology some waste simply cannot be reverted to its original components. It may, however, be reprocessed and re-used for something else. This page shows one seriously viable means of refuse separation, recycling and disposal; in this instance at Derby. For more information, see the website of Brightstar Environmental, from which the item below was extracted (coding modified but content unchanged).


SWERF® is made up of three integrated components : waste pre-treatment and separation, advanced thermal conversion and electricity generation.

Schematic diagram
Click the diagram to view a larger version

1.Household waste delivered
2.Waste sterilised in autoclave
3.Waste separated into organic pulp and recyclables
4.Organic pulp washed and dried
4a.Pulp storage
5.Organic pulp converted to syngas
5a.Syngas cleaning
6.Electricity generated from syngas

Waste pre-treatment and separation

Waste pre-treatment involves the receival of the waste which is then sterilised with steam in an autoclave (with heat and pressure). This process is like cooking the waste in a pressure cooker.     autoclave
    The 'cooked' waste pulp is then separated through a series of screens, trommels and magnets to remove recyclables. Steel, aluminium and rigid plastics are recovered for recycling and a pulp is produced which consists mainly of organic material. This pulp is then washed to remove sand and glass which can be further processed for use in a number of beneficial applications. The washed pulp is dried in preparation for thermal conversion.

Advanced Thermal Conversion

Thermal conversion, commonly known as gasification is the next stage of the process. In the SWERF® process, the washed and dried organic pulp is fed into a sealed metal tube and heated from the outside at a high temperature. There is no air introduced into the tube and this prevents the contents from burning (which would be incineration). This process converts the dry pulp into energy-rich synthetic fuels and a solid residue. The solid residue is inert and can be landfilled, further processed or used in other applications. The synthetic fuels are cleaned in preparation for the use in the power generation equipment.     gasification module
Gasification Module

Electricity Generation

generator module
Generator Module
    The synthesis gas can be used as a fuel for power generation in a similar manner to landfill gas. The renewable electricity produced by using the synthesis gas in internal combustion engines is supplied to the local electricity distribution grid.
Gas engine power generation is a well-established mature technology. Brightstar's parent, Energy Developments Limited (EDL) has a close relationship with a number of engine suppliers and has participated in the development of engine control systems for low energy fuels. In addition, EDL has developed a unique modular power station design, which incorporates the experience of building over 300 power generation modules for a range of diverse fuels including coal seam methane, landfill, natural gas and diesel fuel.

Additional Options

Additional options can be incorporated into the SWERF® providing a fully integrated and flexible resource management package. These additional options include:

Materials Recovery Facility

A Materials Recovery Facility at the SWERF® can take in source-separated recyclables, such as newspapers, metals and bottles and recyle these in the traditional methods. The benefit of integrating this with the SWERF® is that any materials which cannot be recycled, like dirty paper are used in the SWERF® to produce electricity instead of going to landfill.


autoclaved greenwaste
Autoclaved Greenwaste
    Production of organic-based fertiliser and soil amendment products represent an exciting and incremental extension to the SWERF® technology. Historically, it has been cost prohibitive to produce large quantities of high-grade organic-based fertiliser and soil amendment products. This problem is addressed with integration and utilisation of the SWERF® infrastructure. The Company is developing a range of fertiliser and soil amendment products using SWERF® to process organic products such as green waste. The greenwaste is sterilised, separated, shredded, pelletised and dried. Ash and grit fractions from the SWERF® process can be added to the product to enhance mineral content and improve drainage. The process yields a premium mulch product with commercial applications and is free of pathogens, parasites and fugitive seeds.
This premium mulch product also represents the first step in developing even higher-value biofertiliser products. It is believed that the resulting biofertilisers will provide better long-term benefits for soil than chemical fertilisers. These products will have the potential to rehabilitate soil, providing nutrients whilst enhancing moisture retention. Microbially driven, these organic products may take a liquid or solid form and can be modified to meet the needs of specific crops, soils or climates. Trial quantities of the premium mulch and the first of the biofertiliser products have been produced. These products have been applied in plot trials determining germination, growth and yield with initial results being favourable and indicating a wide range of commercial applications. The Company intends to undertake further development work on these products, and their markets.     pelletised premium mulch
Pelletised Premium Mulch

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