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Bioreactors revolutionise waste management in Australia

05 November 2008

A groundbreaking bioconversion technology processes municipal waste into high-grade compost and, at the same time, generates emissions-free electric power from waste biogas.

AnaeCo's DiCOM bioreactors
AnaeCo's DiCOM bioreactors

Designed and engineered by Australian company AnaeCo, the first installation of a patented technology called “DiCOM®” is currently under construction at a municipal waste transfer station in Shenton Park, a suburb of Perth, Australia’s fourth largest city.

Municipal solid waste is unloaded from collection vehicles into this waste transfer station where it is held briefly before it is reloaded onto larger long-distance vehicles for transport to landfills or other treatment or disposal facilities.

While the waste is in the transfer station, DiCOM, an automated bioconversion process, converts the municipal waste into high quality compost which would otherwise be incinerated or transported to a landfill.

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Image caption: Three DiCOM bioreactors at a Perth waste transfer station will process organic waste into high-grade compost, generating enough electricity to power the process and also meet the energy needs of several thousand households. (image courtesy of AnaeCo)
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In addition, the biogas produced during the process is used to generate renewable emissions-free electricity to power the facility. Surplus electricity - enough to meet the annual needs of several thousand Australian homes – is sold to the grid.

AnaeCo selected ABB’s Extended Automation System 800xA as the process automation integration foundation for the project. It is a complete and integrated solution that powers and automates the entire bioconversion process.

“We selected ABB as the preferred automation provider because of its state-of-the-art integrated solution and its excellent price-performance ratio,” says Thomas Rudas, AnaeCo’s managing director and the inventor of the DiCOM process.

ABB’s part of the project includes a process control system, field instrumentation, variable speed drives, and gas analysers. The equipment, which is used in both safe and hazardous areas, is integrated with Profibus. ABB’s contribution also includes electrical equipment to power the process and export the surplus energy to the local power grid.

INTEGRATED WASTE RECOVERY

The DiCOM system offers the waste treatment industry considerable benefits. The system is compact, modular, sealed and does not emit odour – a key factor in sensitive urban environments where waste transfer stations are often located. Non-organic material is rapidly sorted from each batch prior to the conversion of the remaining organic waste into compost and biogas.

For the end customer, Western Metropolitan Regional Council, DiCOM is transforming a simple waste transfer station into an integrated waste recovery and bioconversion facility. Waste that was previously transported 40 kilometres through residential areas to a landfill in a three-hour return journey is now processed cleanly and profitably onsite.

DiCOM is attracting interest from municipal waste facilities all over the world, with several additional orders from Australia and Europe already in the pipeline.




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