UK Power Networks
UKPN Innovation Team
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Innovation Funding Incentive
The majority of poles are currently sent to landfill with the rest being used for barter with landowners. Waste disposal is becoming an increasing issue for EDF Energy Networks and the Environmental Agency. As with the recycling of excavated material, the cost of landfill is increasing and the number of poles being replaced is also rising. There is, therefore, a need to find a sustainable alternative to landfill. The disposal of wood pole is an aspect of the distribution system asset management (decommissioning). This project is done in collaboration with the Forestry Commission to carry out a small scale trial of burning redundant poles to produce charcoal, and to provide feedstock for electricity generation.
The theory has been proved in a laboratory experiment and now needs to be scaled up to evaluate the potential for commercial charcoal production and electricity generation, by building and running a small pilot plant. The work involves the burning of contaminated wood at temperatures to drive off and collect volatile gases to be used for generation of electricity, and to recover the charred wood as a charcoal product. The project will also develop tests to characterise the poles in respect of age, to determine the amount of potential pollutants left in the wood.
The objective issue being addressed by this project is to develop an environmental process for the disposal of wood poles. The collection of the volatile gases to be used for generation of electricity and production of charcoal is an innovative method for the disposal of wood poles.