Gatwick Airport to heat terminal with waste-derived fuel

By Erin Voegele | September 13, 2016

U.K.-based Gatwick Airport has announced it is partnering with DNL to dispose of category 1 waste onsite, converting it into renewable energy used to heat the north terminal of the airport.

According to Gatwick, category 1 forms of waste include food waste or anything mixed with it from international transport vehicles. This includes packaging, cups and meal trays. Disposal of the waste is governed by strict rules to protect against the potential spread of disease and infectious material. Until now, those rules have required the airport to send its category 1 waste offsite.

Beginning in November, a new GBP 3.8 million ($5.01 million) processing plant will safely dispose of category 1 waste onsite, along with all other organic waste generated by the airport. The waste feedstock will be converted into energy to power the new plant and neat the airport’s north terminal. The airport current treats 2,200 metric tons of category 1 waste pear year, with total waste generated at the airport estimated to be 10,500 metric tons annually. The new facility is expected to process approximately 10 metric tons of waste per day.

According to information released by the airport, the waste-to-energy system will blend low-grade un-recoverable wet food waste and organic food packaging to create a solid biomass fuel. Part of the fuel is consumed by the system, but the remaining fuel can be used in a variety of heating applications, including space heating and hot water. Gatwick is scheduled to install a biomass boiler on the airfield to provide the heat required by the new plant in September. A second biomass boiler is expected to be installed at the airport’s north terminal early next year.

 “Handling waste is a challenge for all airports, but Gatwick’s new World-beating facility converts a waste problem into a green energy source,” said Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO. “We expect others to follow Gatwick’s lead as we realize our ambition to become the U.K.’s most sustainable airport.  Already we are one of only a handful of organizations in the country to achieve a triple series of Carbon Trust Standard awards, and more important environmental initiatives will follow soon.”

“We have worked closely with Gatwick Airport over the past decade and are delighted to build our relationship further by implementing an innovative waste management and recycling system. This will not only improve efficiency but will help to accelerate the airport's progress, enabling it to meet its 2020 sustainability targets three years early,” said Paul Richardson, managing director of specialist services at DHL Supply Chain U.K. and Ireland. "We will work closely with Gatwick Airport to integrate new technologies such as our Biomass Waste to Energy System into the supply chain, enhancing energy production and ensuring a sustainable platform to support future expansion for the airport.”