Six pupils were fortunate to visit Grundon’s Energy From Waste (EFW) facility near London last week. They spent the afternoon touring the site to see where all of Haileybury’s general waste goes and to track the process from start to finish. The pupils quizzed the waste team and learnt a lot about the science and logistics of the process. Fascinating and energising(!) all at the same time!
Visit report by Dijan, Lower Sixth:
Grundon is located right next to Heathrow Airport meaning that it is very well placed and therefore deals with waste from all over the South East. The waste from Haileybury goes in smaller vans to a distribution facility closer to the School and then it is packed onto bigger trucks that carry around 30 tonnes of waste. The trucks arrive at the EFW site, are weighed and scanned for any radioactive material.
Highlights of the visit included watching the 7 tonne “fairground grabber” mix the waste for a burn at a more constant temperature to be able to control emissions when it is dumped into the furnace hoppers. Also interesting was the control centre technology like the infrared heat sensors and chemical monitors, seeing inside the 1,000 degree furnaces, watching the sorting of the lime/ash/metal remnants on completion or burning, along with the enormous cooling system used to recycle the water. Ground breaking technology means the lime remnants are turned into aggregate which absorbs carbon dioxide… really cutting edge stuff for the pupils to engage with.
The recycling of food waste discussion was especially interesting as it is a big problem at Haileybury. At the EFW site, food and liquid waste is joined together and then enzymes feed on the waste just like in a human stomach. The methane gases released are captured and reused and in the end the waste results in a nitrogen rich fertiliser.
Interesting facts: if contaminated plants come into the country they are buried underground and not put into general waste/ incinerated even though that costs more. Additionally many luxury brands pay a lot of money to have their products buried and the material just stays under the ground rather than let them be recycled.
The pupils also discussed where their recycling and food waste goes… perhaps another trip needs to be planned!
“The trip helped us realise how much waste, of all types, we produce and why it is so necessary to reduce the amount of it. Furthermore we discovered that many of the objects which we think are recyclable, such as the vegware cups that are used in the Grubber to contain drinks and so on, actually take a long time to break down. Next, we need to educate our school community and make the information we learned that day more accessible for everyone as well as get the message out about reducing our waste. ”
Main picture: Looking up into the enormous web of machinery near the furnaces and cooling systems.