News
October 8, 2019

What is Pyrolysis?

At PyroCore, our technology centres around pyrolysis – it’s at the core of what we do and the systems we provide, hence the name, but it’s not a very well-known process.

Pyrolysis has been around for hundreds of years and is a way of thermally decomposing carbon based materials in the absence of oxygen, without ‘burning’ it. It involves exposing material to heat in a sealed environment. This separates the feedstock material into gaseous components which can be used for energy recovery, and an inert char or ash residue that can be recovered and re-used.

As a cleaner and more flexible process, there are many ways a pyrolysis solution can fit in to a commercial, industrial or maritime operation.

It offers several important operational benefits, including:

  • The process generates energy. It needs external heat to begin, but once at temperature the pyrolysis process produces a syngas which is oxidised, producing its own heat through an exothermic reaction. The unit ultimately self-sustains, requiring no external fuel. In fact, it also creates enough excess heat to generate steam and power as well.
  • The small-scale nature of the unit allows for onsite processing of waste. Diverting waste from landfill or incineration results in a large reduction in ‘waste miles’ and associated waste disposal costs, whilst ensuring duty of care obligations are much better managed.
  • The pyrolysis process can destroy or render harmless a wide range of dangerous organic molecules. These are often reduced to nothing more than carbon, gas and water, even if the waste being pyrolysed is a complex industrial or organic sludge. The residue may need additional processing, but even this is less expensive in the case of pyrolysis than for other competing technologies.
  • All of this is accomplished by proven technology. Our pyrolysis units have been installed in a range of industrial contexts, including the Royal Navy’s new QEC Aircraft Carriers.

PyroCore pyrolysis units can process many common waste materials including:

  • Industrial & commercial wastes
  • Automotive Shredder Residue (ASR)
  • Clinical, medical or hospital wastes (including hazardous materials)
  • Food & slops
  • Paper & card
  • Plastic & packaging
  • Fabric, textiles, carpeting waste and similar materials
  • Sewage & industrial sludges
  • Waste oils & contaminated material
Photo by Jasmin Sessler on Unsplash

The outputs of the pyrolysis process are:

  • Heat, which can be used to
  • Generate steam or electrical power
  • Heat water
  • Cool (via reverse chilling)
  • Inert, Inorganic ash – typically representing between 5% and 10% of the input mass
  • Recyclable or saleable materials, especially in the case of copper or other metals that had been encased in plastic.

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