Did you know that waste that cannot be recycled in Cardiff is used as a resource to generate electricity? Cardiff’s Energy Recovery Facility is operated by Viridor and handles 350,000 tonnes of residual waste per year, generating 30MW of electricity. That’s enough to power 50’000 households! There is a lot of science going on behind this state of the art technology so we caught up with Mark Poole from Viridor to find out more.
What job do you do for Viridor?
Educational Centre and Community benefits Manager. I deliver all sites visits ranging from primary schools to politicians. Part of my role is to help promote the Cardiff Community Fund in partnership with Prosiect Gwyrdd. The fund donates up to £50,000 a year to local charitable organisations
That sounds exciting. How many communities have you helped with the community benefit fund already?
We have helped 16 organisations so far this year and donated £37,261. Working with communities is an important part of my role and we volunteer our services with organisations around our area, such as Keep Splott Tidy by helping in community litter picks.
Why is Energy Recovery better than landfill?
It provides clean renewable energy either in the form of electricity or thermal energy, all the by-products are utilised by third parties so are either recycled or re-used and it reduces greenhouses gases.
What type of technology is used in Viridor to keep the energy produced clean?
State of the art and innovated technology such as continuous emissions monitoring system which monitors the emissions leaving the stack (Chimney) 24 hours a day. Also, the turbine not only creates the electricity that goes to the grid but can also provide thermal energy for district heating. Some of the steam that goes into the turbine is transported to heat vital elements of the process.
What is the science behind the emissions?
We add lime and activated carbon to neutralise the acid gases, adsorb the heavy metals, dioxins and furans. Once these chemicals have been added, the flue gases are filtered through giant sacks called filter bags. These remove the fine dust and reactions called Air Pollution Control Residues (APCR). Large fans then pull the cleaned gases through the ducts and these are released in the form of water vapour out of the stacks (chimneys).
So you can show the public around the site…How many visits do you have each year?
Approximately 120 visits a year which consists of 2,500 visitors. The majority being primary schools and University groups but the rest are made up of mixed education groups, professional groups, contracted companies and Councillors.
If your business is in residual waste, why should we recycle?
Recycling is an important message that I promote within my role. If recyclable materials do come into the site they will be incinerated with the rest of the residual waste, the recycled materials could of been utilised thus having a major part to play in the circular economy.