Pilbara energy project receives go-ahead

Posted by: Cal on 18/09/2014

Category: General

Western Australia's Pilbara region will soon be home to an energy project pipped to convert household and industrial waste into power.

If you are in the market for a brand new set of tyres and are wondering how to use your old tyres for good, this could be the answer you are looking for.

Waste from the Port Hedland tip - including tyres as well as timber, recyclable products, hazardous waste and industrial items - will be sent to New Energy, the company overseeing the project.

New Energy General Manager Jason Pugh told ABC news on September 17 that this could be a great boon for the environment in the area. He says some estimates place the number of used tyres in landfill in the area at 360,000 per year. 

The company's role will be to sort the rubbish, setting aside the recyclables to be used elsewhere. The remaining rubbish will go through a process known as 'low temperature gasification'. There it will be cooked for around 16 to 24 hours, in an oxygen-starved environment.

Eventually, the rubbish will completely combust, meaning carbon monoxide, methane and hydro-carbon are released in their gaseous form. 

"That gas rises in the chamber and then we ignite it with a secondary syngas burner, just like you would natural gas, to go through the steam cycle and create electricity," Mr Pugh explained to ABC news.

He said he expects it to process a fifth of the region's overall annual waste, or around 130,000 tonnes. However, they are also looking to other areas, such as the Shires of Ashburton and east Pilbara as well as the city of Karratha for more waste - and more car tyres.

This new project is the first in the country to use this type of technology and Mayor of Port Hedland is excited about the prospect.

"The future is here and we're thrilled that it's happing (sic) in Port Hedland," she said in a September 11 press release.

"Waste management is a growing issue for all local governments and as a nation we need to look to alternative management techniques rather than relying on traditional landfill operations."

She explained that the project has been in the works for the past four years, with New Energy undertaking many consultation sessions during that time. The project had also achieved all necessary environmental and planning approvals and received $50 million in funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. 

Landfills across the country are overflowing, and do not contribute to a sustainable future.