Solid Waste & Recycling

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Waste-To-Energy

John Kearns is a unique individual in his sixties with the ambition and drive of someone half his age. A self-described inventor, I had the pleasure of meeting Kearns this past summer when vacationing...


John Kearns is a unique individual in his sixties with the ambition and drive of someone half his age. A self-described inventor, I had the pleasure of meeting Kearns this past summer when vacationing in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He was working toward the completion of his 20 tonne per day Kearns Disintegration System (KDS) that will undergo testing this fall.

The system

Invented by Kearns back in 1980s, the patented KDS technology is a two-stage combustion system that utilizes a primary chamber and afterburner. In the primary chamber, waste is combusted at temperatures ranging from 800 to 1400C. In the afterburner, the products of combustion from the primary chamber are maintained at temperatures between 800 to 1,600C for approximately 4.2 seconds.

The main differences between a KDS and a typical mass burn incinerator found in North America and Europe is the high temperature, long holding time, and reduced ash found in a KDS.

Besides municipal solid waste, the KDS was designed to accommodate a variety of solid, semi-solid and liquid waste. It’s also modular in design so the capacity of the system can be tailored to meet the needs of the end user. The result is a system that is ideal for small and medium sized communities with a mix of waste streams that need to be managed.

The company claims it can process municipal solid waste at a cost of $66 per tonne.

Verification

A five tonne-per-day prototype KDS was built and tested in Nova Scotia in 2000 to evaluate the performance of the technology. Independent third party testing performed by AMEC Earth and Environmental verified that the system could fully combust municipal waste resulting in ash with very low carbon content. AMEC also concluded that the KDS prototype generally produced fewer emissions when compared to typical incinerators.

Based on the success of the prototype unit, it’s anticipated the new and improved 20-tpd system that will be tested this fall will satisfy government regulators and potential customers.

The company will ensure that testing of the 20-tpd KDS will meet the requirements of Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Canada. Anyone familiar with ETV knows that verification is not easy or cheap.

The benefits of verification far outweigh the extra effort and cost, especially if one is marketing to global clients. It’s an excellent marketing and sales tool as it provides a company with credibility on its claims and prospective buyers with a level of comfort. Also, through ETV verification, permitting and approvals associated with a technology can be expedited.

Kearns is confident that testing will meet the emission standards of both the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U. S. EPA).

Besides ETV Canada verification, the system is undergoing review by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment under it New Environmental Technology Evaluation (NETE) program.

Sales and marketing

The success of any thermal treatment company hinges on its ability to sell its solution. With respect to global sales and distribution of the KDS, Kearns and his company, Kearns Disintegration Systems Canada Limited, have partnered with Quantum Solutions Technology Ventures Inc. (QSTV), headquartered in Markham, Ontario.

Besides its interest in marketing and sales of waste solutions through its involvement with Kearns’ company, QSTV is also involved in building development and venture funding around the globe.

Through the efforts at QSTV there is already interest in the KDS from municipalities and private companies in over 30 countries. QSTV recently signed an agreement with the Dominican Republic for the purchase of a KDS system complete with energy-from-waste capabilities. It is anticipated that the facility will be operational by 2012.

Another major advantage QSTV brings to the table is its financing capabilities. Through its partnerships with merchant banking groups, QSTV has the ability to provide up to 100 per cent financing for projects. Customers have three payment options — outright purchase of a KDS, financing by QSTV for construction and operation, or a joint venture with minimal or no capital investment by the municipality. John Nicholson, M. Sc., P. Eng., is a consultant based in Toronto, Ontario. Contact John at john.nicholson@ebccanada.com

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“QSTV recently signed an agreement with the Dominican Republic for the purchase of a KDS system.”


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