What Our Tech Actually Does – a Case Study

We just finished treating three industrial sludge samples provided by a very large multinational waste management and energy company which I’ll call The Company in this article. I want to share these results to provide a better idea of what our technology actually does.

Although we’re treating sludge here, we can also treat mixed, dirty plastics including old fishing nets which make up nearly half of ocean plastic’s mass. We originally located the startup in China due to the massive quantities of industrial manufacturing waste (sludge) being generated and dumped here, but with 95% of ocean plastics coming from 10 rivers, 8 of which are in Asia, with the 1st, 3rd, and 4th most polluting rivers within a days drive of our offices,  we’re clearly in the right spot to address both of these massive problems.

Sludge
Now, to the sludge. We were sent three samples:

#1
Petrochemical Sludge. A mix of petrochemical sludge and municipal sludge. In an attempt to dilute industrial sludge many/most wastewater treatment plants mix industrial with municipal sludge. Research says up to 35%, though The Company estimated the number is much higher.

Sludge Petrochemical

#2
Oily Sludge. This is what they called it. We don’t know where these samples came from exactly. Oily sludge is very difficult for most technologies to treat, in fact the treatment cost per ton doubles when treating oily sludge, according to another company we spoke with.

Sludge Oily

 

#3
Biological Sludge. Based on the name I wore two pairs of gloves.

Sludge Bio.jpg

 

Treatment
We treated the sludge using our R2S Resource Recovery System microwave assisted catalytic pyrolysis reactor, located at our demo facility in Ningbo, China. This is a demonstration scale, commercial design system capable of treating up to 20kg of wet sludge per hour. The system operates at a reaction temperature of between 500° C to 1,200° C using 12kW of microwave power in the reactor and 3kW of microwave power in the catalysts. We have published papers, patents, awards, etc. if you’re interested.

R2S from website without logo

The totally awesome photo below is sludge inside the reactor, being decomposed at 800° C. Usually the reactor is sealed off and operating anaerobically, but in order to take some measurements we opened the reactor after an experiment, also took this photo. We edited the photo to hide IP stuff so you don’t copy our design.

a-dsc_0027_edited-reaction-area.jpg

Innov8tia’s novel catalyst is a microwave enhanced, low cost, self-cleaning, solid (heterogeneous) Ni/α-Al2O3 catalyst which reduces tar and oil content while improving the quantity and energy density of gas produced by the reactor. The catalysts material looks like something you could eat, or maybe paint the walls of a a garden room that nice sea foam green color.

Cat0.8mm

 

Results
We can treat the sludge, no problem. It just took us 6 years of R&D, pain, sweat, China government grants, University of Nottingham’s labs, and all of my money.

Petrochemical Sludge
Containing 77% organic and 23% inorganic content on a dry basis. Moisture content was 73%. Treatment yielded 38% char and 62% syngas (wt. %). No oil or water was produced. No residual sludge remained. The gas is comprised primarily of Hydrogen (38% vol.) with an energy content of 15.6MJ/kg. One kg of dry sludge yielded gas with 9.7MJ heating value. Based on this result one dry ton of sludge would produce gas with 9,703MJ energy content which would generate 809kWh of electricity from a CHP.  The gas also contained 17% C2-C5 hydrocarbons and other gases.

Petrochemical sludge

The inorganic component of the sludge contained 90ppm of Arsenic. No other heavy metals were present. In a commercial configuration the char would be vitrified at 1,200° C before exiting the reactor, making it non-leaching and suitable for applications such as a road filler or sand substitute for cement.

Char Petrochemical

Oily Sludge
Containing 65% organic and 35% inorganic content on a dry basis. Moisture content was 70%. Treatment yielded 45% char and 55% syngas (wt. %). No oil or water was produced. No residual sludge remained. The gas is comprised primarily of Hydrogen (35% vol.) with an energy content of 15.6MJ/kg. One kg of dry sludge yielded gas with 8.6MJ heating value. Based on this result one dry ton of sludge would produce gas with 8,627MJ energy content which would generate 719kWh of electricity from a CHP.  The gas also contained 17% C2-C5 hydrocarbons and other gases.

Oil Sludge

The inorganic component of the sludge contained 132ppm of Arsenic and 160ppm of Chromium. No other heavy metals were present. In a commercial configuration the char would be vitrified at 1,200° C before exiting the reactor, making it non-leaching and suitable for applications such as a road filler or sand substitute for cement.

Char Oily

Biological Sludge
Containing 58% organic and 42% inorganic content on a dry basis. Treatment yielded 51% char and 49% syngas (wt. %). No oil or water was produced. No residual sludge remained. The gas is comprised primarily of Hydrogen (36% vol.) with an energy content of 14.1MJ/kg. One kg of dry sludge yielded gas with 6.9MJ heating value. Based on this result one dry ton of sludge would produce gas with 6,881MJ energy content which would generate 573kWh of electricity from a CHP.  The gas also contained 16% C2-C5 hydrocarbons and other gases.

Bio Sludge

The inorganic component of the sludge contained 120ppm of Arsenic and 140ppm of Chromium. No other heavy metals were present. In a commercial configuration the char would be vitrified at 1,200° C before exiting the reactor, making it non-leaching and suitable for applications such as a road filler or sand substitute for cement.

Char Bio

ΔΔΔΔΔΔΔΔΔΔΔΔΔΔΔ

So there you go folks, technology has enabled us to accomplish something which previously was not possible.

If The Company likes our results we’ll hopefully setup a pilot system at one of their facilities. That’s the great thing about our R2S technology, it’s a small distributed system which can treat sludge where it’s produced, avoiding the costs associated with transportation and huge treatment facilities which take up a lot of land space. The other great thing about the tech is that it will stop lots of people from getting sick and dying.

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