Technology could transform bins into power generators

A new waste-to-energy technology fitted within a shipping container could turn bins into power generators.

Developed by Southampton-based SEaB Energy, the ‘MuckBuster’ relies on conventional anaerobic digestion technology to turn food, manure and septic waste into a useful biogas (methane) that is collected and stored in a low-pressure gasbag.

Sandra Sassow, chief executive officer of SEaB Energy, told The Engineer: ‘A CHP unit is used to convert the biogas (methane) to electricity and heat. We also recycle the fluids, use heat exchangers and dewater the digestate to produce liquid fertiliser and mulch.’

SEaB Energy believes that by fitting conventional anaerobic digestion technology and a gas collector into a 40ft shipping container, the £95,000 MuckBuster will become more appealing for use on a commercial scale. Customers are being told that they can recuperate the initial costs in two to five years, depending on the quality of the feedstock.

The MuckBuster has been designed to handle between 0.5 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes of waste.

‘The units can be spread across a larger site to increase the capacity, allowing for the installation of multiple units,’ said Sassow. ‘So, for example, a greenhouse grower could site one at the end of each group of polytunnels, use the green waste to produce energy, feed the waste CO2 into the polytunnels for the plants, and use the fertiliser and mulch for feeding the plants.’

‘We want to empower businesses to make money from their waste,’ said Sassow. The company claims that the MuckBuster could be of particular use to supermarkets, hotels, schools, hospitals and potentially even apartment blocks.

SEaB Energy is in the process of shipping and installing units for its first three unnamed customers, which include an office park, a fruit and vegetable packaging facility, and an agricultural college.

The company recently took its product to San Francisco on the Clean and Cool Mission with the aim of securing between $4.5m–$14m from investors to scale up production and roll out the technology on a global scale.

Following the trip, Sassow explained she has also received expressions of interest from manufacturing and distribution partners.