Osnabrück “Pieswerk” faces opposition from environmentalists
Challenges to Osnabrück “Pieswerk”
Osnabrück plans for a city pyrolysis plant have come under fire from environmentalists. The tyre pyrolysis plant would help the city dispose of old tyres and create energy and raw materials for resale. However, a “ProPye” group is challenging plans for the “Pieswerk.”
They claim that the truth is not being told about the project. They question the claim that no CO2 is produced by the process and fear that it will create noxious emissions. They also question whether the materials produced, tyre pyrolysis oil and recovered Carbon Black will have any resale value
The “ProPye” initiative complains; “We were initially told that the plant had no chimney. But later it turned out that the gas produced during pyrolysis was to be burned to generate energy. According to the city, around 11,000 tons of CO2 are released each year from the energy generation.
“The process also produces toxic chemicals and heavy metals, and we fear that the gas combustion could cause them to escape into the environment,” says Silke Kellermann from “ProPye” in an interview with Hasepost.
Kellermann complains that the pyrolysis plant is a very risky investment for the municipal utility: “The municipal utility absolutely wants to build the plant because financially they have their backs to the wall. But it is a new kind of plant with a lot of unknowns.
“The public utilities want to invest around 35 million euros without knowing whether the work is really worthwhile. The aim is to generate income with the sale of “carbon black“, but it is unclear whether the Carbon Black produced in the Pieswerk will ultimately have the quality required for sale.”
ProPye refer to failed plants in Munich, Karlsruhe, Miltzow and Hoyerswerda. Stadtwerke Osnabrück would bear a large part of the financial risk themselves. Kellermann states; “ProPye would like an independent assessment by external consultants. But instead of an open discussion in the city council and with the citizens, they try to create facts.
“Now some political forces seem to want to push the topic to the urban development committee, so that only a small group would deal with this topic and the public would be more or less excluded. One gets the impression that the discussion should end before it begins,” concludes Kellermann.
Stadtwerke has responded in its FAQs document; “… the planned Pieswerk is a system tailored to our specific requirements and needs. A completely identical system does not yet exist – so far; However, the individual components selected for the Pieswerk, such as rotary kilns, condensation systems and conveyor belts, shredders, mills, and silos, have all been technically evaluated for a long time and do not represent any fundamental innovations. This is by no means a test facility – but a facility with a tried and tested system, mature technology that is now being “discovered” for CO2 avoidance.” They further reference Reoil in Poland, Pyrum in Germany and the Wastefront project in the UK.
Unfortunately, any pyrolysis project is going to be condemned by the failures of projects that went before, without funding, perhaps with the wrong technology, and perhaps even with the absolute wrong aims. If Europe is to address its tyre and polymer waste issues, it needs to set its sights on higher quality projects perhaps less dependent upon the free market – and the “Pieswerk” could be a model for other local authorities, if they get it right.