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Case study

Indivus:

Transforming unrecyclable waste into energy

Dealing with ‘difficult’ waste such as medical, industrial, hazardous and sewage is something many shy away from. But using world-leading technology, Indivus – a joint venture partner of Phoenix Sustainable Investments since 2022 – has created plants and processes that not only dispose of this waste, converting it into heat and power, but can do so with a significantly lower emissions than standard methods.

 “The measured emissions levels are by far the lowest that I have encountered in 12 years of regulating thermal waste processes.”

Environment Agency’s site inspector in the Environment Agency Annual Report referring to the plant in Avonmouth.

A step-change in medical waste management

From its base in Bristol, the company operates its Advanced Thermal Conversion (ATC) plant on an industrial estate just outside the city. First commissioned 20 years ago, the plant treats healthcare and hazardous waste 24/7, 365 days a year, with a minimal carbon footprint. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the plant was designated a Critical Supplier to the NHS by the Cabinet Office's Civil Contingencies Secretariat while exclusively servicing the six largest hospitals in the south-west. 

In a self-sustaining process which requires no additional fuel, rather than burning or incinerating waste the plant treats it using pioneering pyrolysis and gasification technology to produce renewable heat and power that can either be used onsite or exported. Even the most difficult waste can be safely disposed of with low emissions and without resorting to landfill.

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Small scale on a national scale

The compact and modular nature of the Indivus technology makes it a highly versatile waste management solution, with the ability for the system to be tailored to suit either single or multiple waste streams.

With the Avonmouth plant as a proven commercial demonstrator, Indivus’ plan – supported by Phoenix – is to roll out several more schemes throughout the UK. 

Aside from the much-reduced visual impact of the plant compared to a large-scale incinerator, the smaller, more flexible nature of the facility makes it suitable as an on-site solution for industrial waste disposal or as a local hub for use by a wide range of businesses, industries and services. The resulting reduction of transport distance and costs helps further cut carbon emissions from the process end-to-end. 

Localising waste management has the added advantage over large incinerator plants that the surplus heat and electricity produced by the pyrolysis and gasification process can be fully used by local power networks, relieving pressure on aging national infrastructure.

 

Circular economy

Although not a substitute for reducing waste in the first place, the Indivus technology has also been shown capable of supporting nutrient and material recovery and contributing to the growth of the circular economy. 

Metal recovery is also possible as the controlled conditions allow the quality of the metal to be retained during the process, supporting easier extraction and recycling. 

Depending on waste type, the process also allows the production of biproducts in the form of ash or biochar which can lock away carbon in a stable, solid form for generations to come and which can be used in concrete production or, in the case of biochar, for soil improvement or air and water purification. 

 

With a rapid build and commission process – the Avonmouth plant took just nine months to go live – the team at Indivus is confident that their technology could quickly prove a game changer with a beneficial impact that reaches far beyond waste management.

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