Dong Energy Funds First Power Plant Using Bugs to Clean Up Waste

Novozymes A/S, the world’s largest supplier of enzymes, won a contract for the first full-scale power plant that will use the bugs to clean up household waste. 

Dong Energy A/S’s REnescience plant in northern England will use enzyme technology to “wash” organic matter from unsorted waste, creating a slurry that can be turned into a gas for use in power generation or motor fuels, said Thomas Schroder, vice president of commercial bioenergy at Novozymes.

The plant will cost about 60 million pounds ($80 million) and will be the first to use the technology on a commercial scale, said Thomas Dalsgaard, Dong’s executive vice president for bioenergy and thermal power. Dong will finance, build and operate the plant in Northwich, Cheshire. It already has a pilot project in Copenhagen and plans another two commercial scale projects in Denmark and the Netherlands.

The technology means that, in theory, consumers wouldn’t need to sort their waste before recycling. That would avoid the need for recycling plants to reject contaminated waste. 

“It’s certainly more convenient in larger cities, such as Copenhagen, where it’s difficult to find the space for different bins,” Dalsgaard said.

Novozymes will supply “thousands of tons” of enzymes a year to the Northwich plant, which is expected to start in early 2017. It will take waste from the equivalent of 110,000 U.K. homes, said Schroder. Novozymes and Dong Energy also agreed to further develop the enzymes for the technology together.

“This is a pioneering project that has tremendous potential if it really starts to get off the ground,” he said. “It’s about understanding the value of recycled waste streams.”

© 2016 Bloomberg

Lead image credit: Sustainable Initiatives Fund Trust | Flickr

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