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Test plant for fly ash recycling to be built at Herøya

RESOLVING ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: The Norsep team is researching new process technology that can resolve an environmental problem. Acting general manager Susan Heldal, process engineer Martin Einarson Waag, process engineer for doctoral research Øyvind Asgautsen, head of R&D Per Bakke and process engineer Mirela Fazlagic..

Norsep is aiming to build Norway’s first environmental and recycling plant for fly ash. They are now building a test plant at Herøya and will be starting on testing new process technology at some point next year.

If pilot testing of the new process solution goes as planned, Norway’s first cleaning and recycling plant for fly ash from waste incineration may be ready for use at Haraldrud Waste and Energy Plant in Oslo in 2019.

The entrepreneurs behind Norsep are the same people who developed mechanical separation technology for the oil industry within the company OiW Process, and who also found out that the same technology can be used to remove heavy metals from fly ash.

“The separation technology that we are using at this environmental plant makes it possible to recycle both metals and ash from incineration plants,” explains general manager Susan Heldal of research and technology company Norsep.

In the driving seat for recycling

Susan Heldal

IN THE DRIVING SEAT: “We want to place ourselves in the driving seat when it comes to helping to recycle fly ash,” says Susan Heldal, general manager Norsep and OiW Process.

Good lab results resulted in the company receiving capital from Telemark Development Fund and Innovation Norway, and people are expecting great things from Norsep’s new environmental plant.

“We want to place ourselves in the driving seat when it comes to helping with recycling. Pure ash and metals, both of which are scarce and valuable resources, can be recycled from fly ash. Most things can be used in new products,” explains Heldal. The environmental plant will also help to reduce the need to dispose of fly ash as hazardous waste.

Desposal debate

Both Norsep and the technology have received a great deal of media attention in the debate on the disposal of hazardous waste. And not just locally in Grenland and Norway, either. This is also very much a hot topic in Europe and internationally as waste volumes – and hence the need for incineration – increase all over the world. Fly ash containing heavy metals from incineration is currently handled as hazardous waste and sent to landfill.

Norway disposes of around 200,000 tonnes, of which 150,000 tonnes is imported from Denmark and Sweden.

Incineration technology the Achilles heel

“Incineration technology is the Achilles heel of waste disposal,” says Per Bakke, head of R&D at Norsep, who together with Heldal recently attended a European waste disposal congress in Malmö.

“We found that a number of people are almost embarrassed that the issue of handling and recycling fly ash from incineration plants has not been resolved as yet,” they say.

However, these technology entrepreneurs are planning to do something about that, regardless of any disposal plans.  

Assistance

However, the process solution has to be tested first in order to verify that it works.

“Right now we have made a great deal of progress on designing and calculating dimensions for the pilot plant,” says Susan Heldal. “And we are receiving a lot of assistance with this. Herøya Industrial Park has premises and equipment that we can reuse. Essentially, we need tanks, pumps, valves and pipelines. All relatively simple items of equipment, but when it comes to creating new process solutions the trick is to combine the items of equipment in new ways.”

Completion of the pilot plant is planned prior to summer next year, and then full testing will begin.

Make it work

When are you expecting to find out the results of the tests?

“I expect to see good results from testing by autumn next year,” says Susan Heldal.

“If things go as we would like them to, we will carry on and plan a first environmental plant. This will be built next to the Haraldrud energy recovery plant in cooperation with the Oslo Energy Recycling Agency. We have a good, interesting partner that contributes both fly ash and expertise, and together with Herøya Industrial Park the Norsep team is focusing on making all this work,” says an optimistic Heldal. 

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