GB2544621B - A method of processing waste material including a super absorbent polymer - Google Patents

A method of processing waste material including a super absorbent polymer Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2544621B
GB2544621B GB1616756.1A GB201616756A GB2544621B GB 2544621 B GB2544621 B GB 2544621B GB 201616756 A GB201616756 A GB 201616756A GB 2544621 B GB2544621 B GB 2544621B
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Prior art keywords
waste
stage
dewatering
liquid
shredded
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GB2544621A (en
GB201616756D0 (en
Inventor
Herriott Lee
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Personnel Hygiene Services Ltd
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Personnel Hygiene Services Ltd
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Priority to GBGB1517370.1A priority Critical patent/GB201517370D0/en
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Publication of GB201616756D0 publication Critical patent/GB201616756D0/en
Publication of GB2544621A publication Critical patent/GB2544621A/en
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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B09DISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE; RECLAMATION OF CONTAMINATED SOIL
    • B09BDISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE
    • B09B3/00Destroying solid waste or transforming solid waste into something useful or harmless
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B09DISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE; RECLAMATION OF CONTAMINATED SOIL
    • B09BDISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE
    • B09B3/00Destroying solid waste or transforming solid waste into something useful or harmless
    • B09B3/10Destroying solid waste or transforming solid waste into something useful or harmless involving an adsorption step
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B09DISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE; RECLAMATION OF CONTAMINATED SOIL
    • B09BDISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE
    • B09B3/00Destroying solid waste or transforming solid waste into something useful or harmless
    • B09B3/0075Disposal of medical waste
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61LMETHODS OR APPARATUS FOR STERILISING MATERIALS OR OBJECTS IN GENERAL; DISINFECTION, STERILISATION, OR DEODORISATION OF AIR; CHEMICAL ASPECTS OF BANDAGES, DRESSINGS, ABSORBENT PADS, OR SURGICAL ARTICLES; MATERIALS FOR BANDAGES, DRESSINGS, ABSORBENT PADS, OR SURGICAL ARTICLES
    • A61L11/00Methods specially adapted for refuse
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B09DISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE; RECLAMATION OF CONTAMINATED SOIL
    • B09BDISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE
    • B09B3/00Destroying solid waste or transforming solid waste into something useful or harmless
    • B09B3/80Destroying solid waste or transforming solid waste into something useful or harmless involving an extraction step
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29BPREPARATION OR PRETREATMENT OF THE MATERIAL TO BE SHAPED; MAKING GRANULES OR PREFORMS; RECOVERY OF PLASTICS OR OTHER CONSTITUENTS OF WASTE MATERIAL CONTAINING PLASTICS
    • B29B17/00Recovery of plastics or other constituents of waste material containing plastics
    • B29B17/02Separating plastics from other materials
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10LFUELS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NATURAL GAS; SYNTHETIC NATURAL GAS OBTAINED BY PROCESSES NOT COVERED BY SUBCLASSES C10G, C10K; LIQUEFIED PETROLEUM GAS; ADDING MATERIALS TO FUELS OR FIRES TO REDUCE SMOKE OR UNDESIRABLE DEPOSITS OR TO FACILITATE SOOT REMOVAL; FIRELIGHTERS
    • C10L5/00Solid fuels
    • C10L5/40Solid fuels essentially based on materials of non-mineral origin
    • C10L5/46Solid fuels essentially based on materials of non-mineral origin on sewage, house, or town refuse
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B09DISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE; RECLAMATION OF CONTAMINATED SOIL
    • B09BDISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE
    • B09B2101/00Type of solid waste
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E50/00Technologies for the production of fuel of non-fossil origin
    • Y02E50/10Biofuels, e.g. bio-diesel
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E50/00Technologies for the production of fuel of non-fossil origin
    • Y02E50/30Fuel from waste, e.g. synthetic alcohol or diesel

Description

A Method of Processing Waste Material Including a Super Absorbent Polymer
The present invention relates to a method of processing waste material including a superabsorbent polymer, and in particular a method of forming a solid fuel from such material.
Disposal of absorbent sanitary products such as disposable nappies or feminine hygienepads is an ever increasing product for waste management services. The majority of wasteabsorbent sanitary products, when segregated relative to other waste, come from carefacilities such as nursing homes, residential homes and children's nurseries, together withwashroom facilities and hospital waste. In the UK alone around one million tonnes ofwaste of this type is estimated to be generated each year. The cost of handling anddisposing of this waste is significant, with some estimates placing the cost to the UK ofdisposing of waste nappies at over £100 million per year. In addition to the disposalcosts, the environmental impact of waste nappies is also significant.
Nappies and other absorbent sanitary products are classed as 'offensive waste', meaningnon-clinical waste that is non-infectious and doesn't contain pharmaceutical or chemicalsubstances, but may be unpleasant to anyone who comes into contact with it. Themajority of absorbent sanitary waste such as nappies is currently disposed of by landfill orincineration.
Disposable nappies typically consist of an absorbent, anatomically shaped pad having asoft liner for comfort and enclosed within a waterproof cover. The liner that covers theabsorbent pad is made of a plastic polymer such as polypropylene and provides aprotective layer next to the wearer's skin. The protective liner is porous to allow liquid toflow to the absorbent core. The absorbent core is surrounded by a pulp fibre layer withthe core itself comprising a super absorbent polymer (SAP) material that swells oncontact with liquid as the liquid is absorbed within the SAP. The SAP is typically syntheticand may be a polyacrylate, polyacrylamide, or other hydrophilic component. The SAP isgenerally provided in a granular form. The SAP absorbs liquid including water, urine or other body fluids and forms a bond with the liquid, thereby retaining the liquid andpreventing re-release or discharge from the core.
Currently residential waste disposal policy, in the UK at least, requires nappies to bedisposed of through general 'black bag' waste. Hospitals either send absorbent sanitarywaste for landfill or incinerate the waste on site. Currently councils do not have thefacility to recycle nappy waste, and there are health implications to mixing nappies withother recycling waste. Nonetheless processes are currently being developed to recyclesome of the material from waste nappies. Such processes typically involve shredding thenappies and saturating the SAP material with water before pressing the shreddedmaterial to separate the SAP and fibrous material from the plastic material. Following thepressing process a salt such as aluminium sulphate may be added to the material todeactivate the SAP. This prevents any SAP that remains with the plastic from swellingwhen the plastic has been recycled into a moulded product. In other processes anautoclave may be used to separate and clean the material through a process of heating,pressurisation, agitation and shredding.
Such processes are relatively energy intensive and only recover a limited amount ofrecyclable material from the waste.
It is therefore desirable to provide an improved means of processing waste productscontaining super absorbent polymers which addresses the above described problemsand/or which offers improvements generally.
According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a method of processingwaste material including a super absorbent polymer, the method comprising: a) shredding the waste material; b) applying a liquid biocide to the shredded waste material; c) applying a salt to the shredded waste material to deactivate the superabsorbent polymer; and d) dewatering the waste material following deactivation of the super absorbentpolymer; wherein the step of applying a liquid biocide to the shredded wasteis provided after the step of dewatering the waste material.
Further disclosed are a method of processing waste material including a super absorbentpolymer, the method comprising: a) shredding the waste material; b) applying a salt to the shredded waste material; c) dewatering the waste material following application of the salt; d) applying a biocide to the shredded waste material.
Further disclosed are a method of processing waste material including a super absorbentpolymer, the method comprising: a) shredding the waste material; b) applying a salt to the shredded waste material; c) dewatering the waste material following application of the salt.
The first aspect of the invention may include any of the features, options or possibilitiesset out elsewhere in this application, including the following.
The waste material may include one or more of: incontinence products, nappies, diapers,sanitary towels, absorbent sanitary products pulp fibre bedpans, slipper pans and urinals.The waste material may be a mixture of two or more of: cellulose, cotton, plastics, superabsorbent polymers, liquid, water, urine, menstrual discharge, faeces.
Preferably no separation of the plastics content of the waste material from the superabsorbent polymer content of the waste material is provided or sought in the process.Preferably at least 80% of the plastics content of the waste material and at least 80% of the super absorbent polymer content of the waste material are present in the wastematerial entering the material collection stage and/or are present in the solid wasteproduct stream from the process.
Preferably no separation of the plastics content of the waste material, the superabsorbent polymer content of the waste material and the cotton and/or cellulose contentof the waste material is provided or sought in the process. Preferably at least 80% of theplastics content of the waste material, at least 80% of the super absorbent polymercontent of the waste material and at least 80% of the cellulose and/or content of thewaste material are present in the waste material entering the material collection stageand/or are present in the solid waste product stream from the process.
The super absorbent polymer may be a polyacrylate, polyacrylamide, or other hydrophiliccomponent. The super absorbent polymer may be provided in a granular or powder form
The process may include a waste material reception stage. The waste material receptionstage may provide for one or more of: storing of waste material, opening containers forwaste material, opening packaging for waste material, removing waste material fromcontainers or packaging, providing waste material to a hopper or conveyor.
The method may include a metal screening stage. The waste material may be movedthrough the metal screening stage, for instance using a conveyor. The metal screeningstage may include passing the waste material through a magnetic field, for instanceprovided by one or more magnets. The metal screening stage may remove magneticmaterials from the waste material. The metal screening stage may be provided after awaste material reception stage. Preferably the metal screening stage is provided beforethe shredding stage.
Preferably no water or other liquid is added to the waste material between the start ofthe processing and the waste material entering the shredding stage. Preferably no wateror other liquid is added to the waste material between the start of the processing and the waste material exiting the shredding stage. Preferably any water or other liquid added tothe waste material between the start of the processing and the waste material enteringthe shredding stage is less than 10% by weight of the waste material, more preferably lessthan 5% by weight. Preferably no water or other liquid is added to the waste materialbetween the start of the processing and the waste material exiting the shredding stage.Preferably any water or other liquid added to the waste material between the start of theprocessing and the waste material exiting the shredding stage is less than 10% by weightof the waste material, more preferably less than 5% by weight.
Preferably the moisture content of the waste material, excluding the moisture absorb bythe super absorbent polymer in the waste material, is less than 25% by weight onentering the shredding stage. More preferably it is less than 20% and still morepreferably less than 10%. Preferably the moisture content of the waste material,excluding the moisture absorb by the super absorbent polymer in the waste material, isless than 25% by weight on exiting the shredding stage. More preferably it is less than20% and still more preferably less than 10%.
The shredding may be provided by a shredding stage. The shredding stage may include arotating shredder, for instance a dual shaft shredder. The dual shaft shredder mayprovide two counter rotating shafts, with each shaft provided with a series of cuttingblades. The shredding stage, particularly the rotating shredder, may control themaximum size of the shredded waste material, for instance through the spacing and sizeof the shafts and/or cutting blades. The maximum size of the shredded waste may be nogreater than 150mm, particularly no greater than 120mm.
Preferably the shredding stage is conducted at the ambient temperature of the processenvironment +/- 10°C, more preferably +/-5°C. Preferably the process and its stages areall conducted at the ambient temperature of the process environment +/- 10°C, morepreferably +/-5°C. Preferably no heating is inputted to the shredding stage. Preferably noheating is inputted to the waste material between entry to the process and exiting the process, for instance at the waste material collection and/or waste material wrappingstage.
The method may include a second metal screening stage. The waste material may bemoved through the second metal screening stage, for instance using a conveyor. Thesecond metal screening stage may include passing the waste material through a magneticfield, for instance provided by one or more magnets. The second metal screening stagemay remove magnetic materials from the waste material. Preferably the second metalscreening stage is provided after the shredding stage. Preferably the second metalscreening stage is provided before a first liquid application stage.
The application of the salt may be provided by a first liquid application stage. The firstliquid application stage may apply the salt to the waste material. The first liquidapplication stage may be provided after the shredding stage and/or second magneticscreening stage. The first liquid application stage may be provided before the dewateringstage.
The salt is preferably absorbed by the SAP. The salt may impede the SAP's ability to bondwith water molecules, preferably thereby providing the deactivation. The salt maydeactivate the SAP and reduce its capacity and/or prevent it from retaining the liquid ithas absorbed. The liquid is therefore able to be substantially and/or fully removed fromthe SAP when the waste is dewatered, resulting in a dry and biologically sanitisedmaterial.
The salt used is preferably an alum, which may be aluminium sulphate. Preferably thealuminium sulphate is applied to the waste material as a solution and preferably asaturated solution. This assists in absorption of the aluminium sulphate by the SAP, withthe use of a saturated solution maximising the efficacy in deactivating the SAP.
Preferably no water or other liquid is added to the waste material between the exit fromthe shredding stage and the waste material entering the first liquid application stage.
Preferably no water or other liquid is added to the waste material between the exit fromthe shredding stage and the waste material exiting the first liquid application stage, otherthan the salt containing liquid.
Preferably the process provides for no water or liquid being added to the waste materialbetween entry to the process and exit from the process, other than in the first liquidapplication stage and/or the second liquid application stage.
The biocide may be applied by a liquid application stage, particularly a second liquidapplication stage. The second liquid application stage may apply the biocide to the wastematerial. The second liquid application stage may be provided before the wastematerial wrapping stage.
The liquid biocide may be absorbed by the SAP and renders the SAP biologically safe. Theliquid biocide may decontaminate any biological material on the surface of the wastematerial.
The biocide may be an active germicide such as Envirosan ®. The liquid biocide ispreferably sprayed onto the waste material. A misting apparatus is used to spray thebiocide. Spraying the material in this way optimises coverage of the material and allowsthe liquid to be applied in an even and equal distribution.
The salt is preferably a liquid aluminium sulphate solution. The volume of liquidaluminium sulphate solution applied to the waste material is selected to fully saturate thesuper absorbent material. This ensures that the SAP is completely deactivated to ensurefull dewatering.
The volume of liquid aluminium sulphate solution applied to the waste material may beselected to exceed the absorptive volume of the super absorbent polymer. This ensuresfull saturation. As the waste material is dewatered after this stage, any excess liquidremaining on the material is removed and does not present a problem. The volumeselected to exceed the absorptive volume of the super absorbent polymer may be thecombined volume of the liquid aluminium sulphate solution and any other liquid applied,such as a liquid biocide. A dosing period is preferably allowed between the application of salt to the wastematerial and the dewatering stage. The term dosing period means a period for which thewaste material is allowed to soak up the liquid that has been applied to it. The dosingperiod is selected to allow the super absorbent polymer to become fully saturated withthe salt before dewatering.
The waste material is preferably held on a bulk waste conveyor for the dosing periodbefore being transferred to the dewatering stage.
The dewatering of the waste material may be provided by a dewatering stage. Thedewatering stage may comprise compressing the waste material and/or using a screenelement and/or filter element to separate the solid waste matter from the liquid removedunder compression. Preferably the waste material is compressed by a dewatering screwpress, which it has been found provides a highly efficient means of dewatering bulk wastematerial of this type.
The dewatering screw press may provide a rotating shaft with a helical thread, providedwithin an enclosure. The volume between the shaft, helical thread and enclosure may bereduced towards the outlet end of the dewatering screw press. The volume reductionpreferably causes compression of the waste material. The compression of the wastematerial causes the liquid to exit through apertures in the enclosure, particularly thelower part thereof, most preferably under the action of gravity. The liquid forms a wasteliquid stream.
In an alternative form, the dewatering screw press may include one or more of thefollowing features:
Feeding the waste material via an enclosed conveyor, such as a screw conveyor,to the dewatering screw press;
Feeding the waste material into the dewatering screw press using a chute;
Conveying the waste material away from the entry to the dewatering screwpress by means of a rotating shaft and/or helical screw thread;
Conveying the waste material towards a pressure application location within thedewatering screw press, for instance at the end of the dewatering screw press away fromthe entry;
Applying pressure to the waste material at the pressure application location, forinstance by means of one or more elements and/or the rotating shaft and/or helicalthread;
The one or more elements being two hydraulically operated pressure applyingflaps;
The one or more elements being moveable, for instance closer together orfurther apart, for instance to increase or decrease the pressure applied to the wastematerial;
The one or more elements may oppose the spreading of the waste materialwhich is driven between them by the rotating screw;
Applying the pressure causes a plug of waste material to form;
The dewatered waste material being extruded continuously from the dewateringstage or being removed in batches;
The liquid from the dewatering draining out through the bottom of thedewatering stage to a separate location, for instance for further treatment;
The position of the one or more elements and/or the pressure applied to the oneor more elements may controlled via a control panel and can be increased or decreasedto achieve a given reduction in moisture content and/or given level of dryness requiredfor the waste material.
Preferably the dewatering stage is conducted at the ambient temperature of the processenvironment +/- 10°C, more preferably +/-5°C. Preferably no heating is inputted to thedewatering stage. Preferably no heating is inputted to the waste material between entryto the dewatering stage and exiting the waste material collection and/or waste materialwrapping stage.
The waste material exiting the dewatering stage may have a moisture content of less 40%by weight, more preferably less than 38%, for instance between 30 and 35%. The wastematerial exiting the dewatering stage may be provided to the second liquid applicationstage. The second liquid application stage preferably applies the biocide to the wastematerial.
The waste material from the dewatering stage, preferably after the second liquidapplication stage, is fed to a waste material collection stage. The waste materialcollection stage may include forming the waste material into bales and/or wrapping thewaste material. The waste material, for instance formed into bales, may be used as asolid fuel.
From the dewatering stage the liquid waste stream may be fed to a liquid wastetreatment stage. The liquid waste treatment stage may provide clarification of the liquidwaste. The liquid waste treatment stage may provide a dissolve air flotation unit. Theliquid waste treatment stage may provide a liquid output which can be discharged directto the environment.
In another embodiment of the invention, two or more different waste material types maybe provided to the waste material reception stage and/or shredding stage. One or moreof the different waste material types may pass through a pre-processing stage for thatwaste. The one or more different waste material types may include soft non-infectiousclinical waste. The soft non-infectious clinical waste may include one or more of: tissues,swabs, pads, dressings, paper and plastics from dentists, nurses, doctors and hospitals.
The pre-processing stage may provide sterilisation of the waste stream type, preferablybefore reaching the shredder stage. The sterilisation may be achieved through theapplication of heat, chemicals, pressure and/or irradiation, either singularly or in variouscombinations. Once sterilised, the waste stream can simply be fed to the waste feed or itmay be mixed and blended into the one or more other feed waste types, for instance tocreate a more homogeneous feed.
In another embodiment of the invention, one or more or all stages of the process may beconducted in a process environment which is isolated from the surrounding environment.
The waste material may be conveyed to the process environment in sealed bags or othercontainers, ideally which prevent odour release from the untreated waste material.
The process environment may be defined by one or more buildings. The processenvironment may be defined by the walls, doors and roofs of the structures, for instanceto prevent the movement of the air around the waste material in the processenvironment passing into the surrounding environment, potentially considered asoutside.
The process environment may contain one or more or all of: the waste material receptionstage; the first metal screening stage; the shredding stage; the second metal screeningstage; the first liquid application stage; the dosing stage; the dewatering stage; thesecond liquid application stage; the waste material collection stage; the liquid wastetreatment stage.
Preferably air in or entering the process environment passes to an air treatment stagebefore exiting the process environment. The air treatment stage may include airtreatment units provided at the exit for the air from the process environment. The airtreatment units consist of fans to draw the air into the air treatment units from theenvironment within the facilities. In the air treatment units, sterilisation and/or odourremoval steps may be provided, for instance using UV and/or ozone treatment of the air.
The sterile and/or de-odourised air then leaves the process environment and enters thesurrounding environment after treatment.
The present invention will now be described by way of example only with reference tothe following illustrative figures in which:
Figure 1 is a schematic of a method of waste material processing useful for understanding the present invention;
Figure 2 is a schematic of a method of waste material processingaccording to a first embodiment of the present invention.
First background process form
Referring to Figure 1, a process is described for the processing of absorbent sanitary wasmaterial. Such material is classified under European Waste Code 18 01 04 and 20 01 99and may include incontinence products, nappies and sanitary towels from washroomenvironments.
The waste material may be collected in bulk by a waste management service providerdirectly from bulk users such as nursing and residential homes, children's nurseries andwashrooms. In addition, or alternatively the waste may be generated from municipalwaste collections. The waste material may include any absorbent sanitary productsincluding, but not limited to, disposable nappies, feminine hygiene products, pulp fibrebedpans, slipper pans and urinals, incontinence pads and other products.
At the start of the process waste is initially received and unloaded and visually inspectedto identify and remove non-compliant items. The raw waste is then transferred to a bulkhopper which holds and contains the waste in its unrefined condition. Transfer may be byload handling vehicle such as a tele-handler having a loading bucket. At this stage thewaste is in the unprocessed form in which it was collected.
The hopper channels the waste to its outlet and on to an infeed conveyor which transfersthe waste to a shredder. A hydraulic feed ram forces the material into the shredder. Theshredder comprises one or more spinning rotor shafts including cutting blades arrangedalong its length that rotate with the rotor. The cutting blades are spaced and sized toshred the waste material to a pre-determined particle size. It has been found by theapplicant that a preferable particle size for processing is a shredded particle shred size nogreater than 60mm. To ensure uniform particle size the shredded waste material ispassed through a size selective screen section. For a selected maximum shredded particlesize of 60mm the screen is a hexagonal screen having a pass size of 80mm. At thisparticle size plastic, SAP and fibrous material is passed through the screen. A wet arresteris utilised to draw off any steam generated during the shredding process and tocondensate.
The shredded material is then transferred to a treatment or 'dosing' conveyor. While onthe conveyor the waste material is sprayed directly via direct spray nozzles with both asalt solution and a biocide.
The biocide is sprayed by a nozzle configured to generate a mist. The purpose of sprayingthe biocide at this stage of the process if to effectively treat and render biologically safeall processed material. The biocide Dilution ratio is preferably 1 to 9 (2lt Biocide to 18ltH2O). The biocide composition is preferably an active germicide, and is provided at abiocide dilution ratio of 1 to 9 (2lt Biocide to 18lt H2O).
The salt solution is preferably aluminium sulphate, which is added to the waste materialto deactivate the SAP held within the input material. The aluminium sulphate may beadded at a dilution level of < 10% by weight. The aluminium sulphate is sprayed in aliquid form. The liquid aluminium sulphate is supplied as a saturated solution with theempirical formula: AI2(SO4)3.51.8 H2O,which may be alternatively expressed as: AI2O3.3SO3.51.8 H2.
The AI2O3 content of the product is 8% w/w and is referred to as '8% AluminiumSulphate'. In Aluminium terms the product contains 4.2% w/w, and as AluminiumSulphate it contains 26.8% w/w.
The aluminium sulphate and biocide that is sprayed onto the waste along the dosingconveyor by the misting system is absorbed by the SAP within the waste. The volume ofbiocide and aluminium sulphate sprayed onto the waste material is selected to ensure theSAP material within the waste becomes completely saturated with biocide and aluminiumsulphate. Preferably this is achieved by selecting the sprayed volume of liquid to exceedthe absorptive capacity of the SAP within the waste material. The sprayed waste materialis conveyed and retained on a bulk conveyor for a dosing period that allows the sprayedliquid to be absorbed by the waste material. The waste material may also be agitatedwhile on the conveyor to assists in absorption. The waste material is preferably retainedon the slow moving bulk conveyor for a dosing period of approximately 5 minutes. Thebiocide absorbed by the SAP during this period sterilises the material to make it safe foronward use. At the same time, the aluminium sulphate absorbed by the SAP materialdeactivates the SAP and prevents it from retaining liquid.
Following the dosing stage, the treated material is fed via an enclosed transfer screwconveyor directly to a dewatering screw press. The dewatering screw press is used toseparate the liquid fraction (effluent) from the solid waste material, referred to herein asthe dry fraction. The dry fraction includes the shredded plastic material, SAP, pulp fibresand any other solid material used to form the sanitary products being processed.
The dewatering screw press separates the dry fraction from the liquid fraction bycompressing the waste matter against a perforated screen to extract the liquid and retainthe solid matter. The screw press comprises a rotating shaft around which is providedwith an interrupted screw thread. A cylindrical perforated screen surrounds the shaft,having a diameter equal to the diameter of the screw thread. The perforations may have a diameter of approximately 1.5mm. As the shaft rotates, waste material is held betweenthe screw threads by the screen. The pitch of the thread reduces along the length of theshaft in the direction of travel, which axially compacts the waste material. In addition,the diameter of the shaft increases in the direction of travel, which reduces the spacingbetween the shaft and the screen, thereby radially compacting the waste material. Asthat waste material is axially and radially compacted, the liquid fraction is forced out andpasses through the perforations in the screen.
As the SAP has been deactivated in the previous dosing stage, the SAP does not retain anyliquid, and it is possible to fully dewater all of the waste material as the material issqueezed against the perforated screen system. All of the liquid fraction is forced outthrough the screen, and the dry fraction, including the SAP, is retained within the screwpress.
The compacted waste material exits the dewatering screw press and is transferred fromthe dewatering screw press to a waste baler for final processing into bales of wasteproduct. The waste baler further compacts and shapes the dewatered waste materialinto uniform tied off bales that are easily handled, stored and transported. Anapproximate bale size may be in the region of 1.2m3, with a weight of up to 1 tonne.
The waste material is loaded onto a conveyor from the dewatering screw press and fedinto a feeding chute on the horizontal baler. The press cycle is activated by a light-sensitive barrier integrated into the feeding chute. The speed of the press-ram iscontrolled by the pressure valves. The overall pressing cycle is controlled and adapted tothe pressure, time and distance parameters. The press-ram is retracted automatically tothe basic position on completion of the press cycle and the pressing cycle restarts until acomplete bale is formed.
The baled material is finally wrapped using a polythene system ready for use as a refusederived fuel (RDF). Enclosing the bales in polythene makes transportation easier and alsoallows the fuel bales to be stored for long periods of time without the production of leachate or odours, both of which are contained using the plastic film. The fuel bales inthis form may be delivered to energy production facilities where they may beimmediately used as fuel, for example for the production of electricity, without therequirement for any additional processing.
The liquid fraction extracted from the waste matter is further treated to remove anyresidual small particulate suspended solid matter. Finer grade filters and perforatedscreens are used to remove these remaining small particles of fibre and plastics that mayhave entered the effluent from the dewatering screw press. The filtered liquid is thendiluted in large liquid holding tanks using locally sourced and filtered water to allow forfinal discharge as trade effluent.
Invention embodiment of process
The embodiment of the process according to the invention is an improved version of thebackground process form. As such, many of the features, options and possibilities for thebackground process form are also applicable to the embodiment of the invention. In thedescription of the embodiment of the invention, emphasis is placed on the differencescompared with the background process form.
Referring to Figure 2, the process is concerned with the processing of the same types ofabsorbent sanitary waste material as the background process form.
At the start of the process, the waste is initially received in a bag or other container whichis opened to access the waste. The waste is loaded onto an open top conveyor andpasses through a first metal screening step where a magnet is used to remove ferrous andother magnetic material in the waste stream. These elements are removed from thewaste stream to avoid any deleterious impact on the subsequent processing steps.
The feed conveyor then continues, carrying the waste to a shredder. In the preferredsecond embodiment, the shredder comprises a dual shaft shredder in which two counter rotating shafts are arranged in proximity with one another with their rotational axisparallel to each other. Each shaft is provided with a series of cutting blades with the cutting blades on one shaft spaced axially so that they are opposite a gap between cuttingblades on the other shaft. In this manner, the cutting blades are interdigitated to provideeffective shredding the shafts and more particularly the cutting blades are spaced andsized to shred the waste material to a pre-determined particle size. It has been found bythe applicant that a preferable particle size for processing is a shredded particle shred sizeno greater than 120mm. Typical particles are sections of the waste material with alongest dimension, length, of 120mm or less, a smallest dimension, thickness, of less than10mm and a dimension perpendicular to the smallest dimension and coplanar orperpendicular to the longest dimension, a width, of less than 32mm. The configurationand operation of the dual shaft shredder is very reliable in providing a given maximumsize and so no screening or other size verification step is necessary. The avoidance of theneed for a screen reduces the chances of production disrupting blockages on the screen.
The shredded material is then transferred to second conveyor. Again, the secondconveyor is open topped and passes through a second metal screening step where amagnet is used to remove ferrous and other magnetic material in the waste stream.These elements are removed from the waste stream to avoid any deleterious impact onthe subsequent processing steps. The second metal screening step is particularlyprovided to remove any magnetic material released by the shredding step and/orrendered more exposed in the finer waste material after shredding.
The second conveyor continues and provides the waste material to a treatment or'dosing' step. While on the conveyor the waste material is sprayed directly via directspray nozzles with a salt solution. No other liquid or solid materials are applied to thewaste in this step. The biocide mentioned in this step in the first embodiment is nowprovided at a later step in the process.
The salt solution is preferably aluminium sulphate as with the first embodiment.
Following the dosing stage, the treated material is fed via an enclosed transfer screwconveyor directly to a dewatering stage. The stage includes a dewatering screw press, but differs from the first embodiment in which the diameter of the shaft increasing in thedirection of travel to reduce the space and so compress the waste material further. In thesecond embodiment, a chute feeds the waste material into the dewatering screw and itschamber, from above. The waste material is conveyed by the rotating screw of thedewatering screw press away from the entry and towards a counter pressure unit at theother end. The counter pressure unit is formed of two hydraulically operated pressureapplying flaps. These can be moved within an enclosing chamber, closer together orfurther apart. The flaps oppose the spreading of the waste material which is drivenbetween them by the rotating screw. This causes a plug of waste material to form. Theflaps can be moved closer together and/or be inclined closer together as the wastematerial progresses further away from the entry so as to increasingly dewater the wastematerial. The dewatered plug can be extruded continuously from the dewatering stage,with the liquid draining out through the bottom of the stage to a separate location, or inbatches.
The position of the flaps and/or the pressure applied to the flaps is controlled via acontrol panel and can be increased or decreased to achieve a given reduction in moisturecontent and/or given level of dryness required for the waste material. Differences indewatering characteristics for different batches of waste material can also beaccommodated in this manner and yet achieve a consistent waste material afterdewatering.
The compacted waste material which exits the dewatering screw press is againtransferred a waste baler step for final processing into bales of waste product.
Prior to, or within the waste baler step, a biocide is sprayed by a nozzle configured togenerate a mist. The purpose of spraying the biocide at this stage of the process is toeffectively treat and render biologically safe all processed solid material. Adding thebiocide at this step is preferable as it prevents biocide being present in the liquid effluentgenerated in the dewatering step. This is an issue with the background process form.The properties of the biocide are as per the background process form.
The waste baler further compacts and shapes the dewatered waste material into uniformtied off bales that are easily handled, stored and transported, as with the firstembodiment. The water content of the waste in the bales is around 30-35% moisture byweight and as a consequence the waste is light and fluffy in consistency.
The baled material is finally wrapped using a polythene system ready for use as a refusederived fuel (RDF), as with the first embodiment.
The liquid fraction extracted from the waste matter is further treated to remove anyresidual small particulate suspended solid matter using a dissolved air flotation unit. Air isdissolved in the liquid under pressure and on entering a flotation tank forms air bubblesas the pressure is released. The air bubbles adhere to the particulate material and rise tothe surface of the tank where they are skimmed off. The result is a clarified liquid fractionwhich is clean enough to be discharged as waste water. In extreme cases, some chemicaltreatment, for instance flocculation, may be required to remove difficult to extract solids.
Modified process form
In the case of either of the background process form or the embodiment of the inventiondescribed above, it is possible to accommodate other forms of waste feed materialthrough the provision of a pre-processing stage for that waste. The forms of wastedescribed in the background process form and embodiment of the invention do not needto pass through this additional pre-processing stage.
The pre-processing stage is used to accommodate more problematic waste streams suchas soft non-infectious clinical waste. This waste is exemplified by tissues, swabs, pads,dressings, paper and plastics from dentists, nurses, doctors and hospitals which havebeen used, but which are free of infection risk. Due to the potential risks from suchwastes, however, the modified process form provides for the sterilisation of this wastestream before entering the process described above.
The sterilisation may be achieved through the application of heat, chemicals, pressureand/or irradiation, either singularly or in various combinations. For instance, heat basedsterilisation may employ autoclaves, ovens or the like. For instance, chemical basedsterilisation may employ ethylene oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone or other agents. Forinstance, irradiation based sterilisation may be provided by non-irradiating sterilisation(such as UV application) in preference to ionising irradiation.
Once sterilised, the waste stream can simply be fed to the waste feed to the first and/orsecond embodiment process or it may be mixed and blended into the normal feed wastefor that process so as to create a more homogeneous feed.
Environment control for the process embodiment
Due to the nature and the volume of the waste being processed, steps are taken toprevent odours leaking from the process environment into the surrounding environment.This involves the waste being conveyed to the processing site in sealed bags or othercontainers which prevent odour release from the untreated waste. Once on site, thesealed bags continue to prevent odour release, but in a preferred format the waste isstored in enclosed storage facilities before moving to the process plant. The processplant too is provided within an enclosed process facility. The enclosed storage facilityand/or process facility are formed by walled and roofed structures which prevent themovement of the air around the waste into the general environment. Whilst accessdoors are provided to allow access to the facilities, these are only open when necessary.Furthermore, even when open air is drawn in through these openings and then passes toair treatment units provided at the exit for the air from the facilities.
The air treatment units consist of fans to draw the air into the air treatment units fromthe environment within the facilities. In the air treatment units, sterilisation and/orodour removal steps are provided, for instance using UV and/or ozone treatment of theair. The sterile and/or de-odourised air then leaves the facility and enters thesurrounding environment.
Whilst endeavouring in the foregoing specification to draw attention to those features ofthe invention believed to be of particular importance it should be understood that theApplicant claims protection in respect of any patentable feature or combination offeatures hereinbefore referred to and/or shown in the drawings whether or not particularemphasis has been placed thereon.

Claims (27)

1. A method of processing waste material including a super absorbent polymer, themethod comprising: shredding the waste material; applying a liquid biocide to the shredded waste material; applying a salt to the shredded waste material to deactivate the super absorbentpolymer; and dewatering the shredded waste material following deactivation of the superabsorbent polymer; wherein the step of applying a liquid biocide to the shredded waste material isprovided after the step of dewatering the shredded waste material.
2. A method according to claim 1 wherein the salt is aluminium sulphate.
3. A method according to any preceding claim wherein no water or other liquid isadded to the waste material between the start of the processing and the waste materialexiting a shredding stage which provides the shredding of the waste material.
4. A method according to any preceding claim in which the moisture content of thewaste material, excluding the moisture absorb by the super absorbent polymer in thewaste material, is less than 25% by weight on entering the shredding stage and/or onexiting the shredding stage.
5. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the method provides, insequence: a shredding stage; a first liquid application stage applying the salt; adewatering stage; a second liquid application stage applying the liquid biocide.
6. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the method provides, insequence: a waste material reception stage; a first metal screening stage; a shreddingstage; a second metal screening stage; a first liquid application stage applying the salt; a dosing stage; a dewatering stage; a second liquid application stage applying the liquidbiocide; a waste material collection stage.
7. A method according to claim 2 or any claim depending therefrom wherein thealuminium sulphate is applied to the shredded waste material as a solution.
8. A method according to claim 7 depending therefrom wherein the aluminiumsulphate solution is a saturated solution.
9. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the liquid biocide is anactive germicide.
10. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the liquid biocide is sprayedonto the shredded waste material.
11. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the salt is a liquidaluminium sulphate solution and is sprayed onto the shredded waste material.
12. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the salt is a liquid aluminiumsulphate solution and the volume of liquid aluminium sulphate solution applied to theshredded waste material is selected to fully saturate the super absorbent material.
13 A method according to claim 12 wherein the volume of liquid aluminiumsulphate solution applied to the shredded waste material is selected to exceed theabsorptive volume of the super absorbent polymer.
14. A method according to any preceding claim wherein a dewatering stagecomprises compressing the shredded waste material and using a screen element and/orfilter element to separate the solid waste matter from the liquid removed undercompression.
15. A method according to claim 14 wherein the shredded waste material iscompressed by a dewatering screw press.
16. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the dewatering of theshredded waste material is provided by a dewatering screw press which include one ormore of the following features or steps: conveying the shredded waste material away from the entry to the dewateringscrew press by means of a rotating shaft and/or helical screw thread; conveying the shredded waste material towards a pressure application locationwithin the dewatering screw press, for instance at the end of the dewatering screw pressaway from the entry; applying pressure to the shredded waste material at the pressure applicationlocation, for instance by means of one or more elements and/or the rotating shaft and/orhelical thread.
17. A method according to any preceding claim wherein dewatering of the shreddedwaste material in a dewatering stage is conducted at the ambient temperature of theprocess environment +/- 10°C.
18. A method according to any preceding claim wherein no heating is inputted to adewatering stage provided for dewatering of the shredded waste material.
19. A method according to any preceding claim wherein no heating is inputted to thewaste material between entry to a dewatering stage and exiting a waste materialcollection and/or waste material wrapping stage.
20. A method according to any preceding claim further including compacting theshredded waste material into bales following a dewatering stage, preferably for use as asolid fuel.
21. A method according to any proceeding claim wherein the dewatered wastematerial is used as a solid fuel, for instance for power generation and/or heat generation.
22. A method according to any preceding claim wherein a shredding stage isconducted at the ambient temperature of the process environment +/- 10°C.
23. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the process and its stagesare all conducted at the ambient temperature of the process environment +/- 10°C.
24. A method according to any preceding claim wherein no heating is inputted to thewaste material between entry to the process and exiting the process.
25. A method according to any preceding claim wherein no separation of the plasticscontent of the waste material from the super absorbent polymer content of the wastematerial is provided or sought in the process.
26. A method according to any preceding claim wherein a dosing period is allowedbetween the application of salt to the waste material and a dewatering stage that isselected to allow the super absorbent polymer to become fully saturated with the saltbefore dewatering.
27. A method according to claim 26 wherein the waste material is held on a bulkwaste conveyor for the dosing period before being transferred to a dewatering stage.
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