Case study: data tool brings speedier analysis to energy-from-waste site
2 Nov 2016
A fresh approach to data analysis has reaped benefits at a large energy-from-waste facility in West Yorkshire.
Multifuel Energy’s large energy-from-waste facility in West Yorkshire provides electricity for around 160,000 homes, while diverting 600,000 tonnes of household and industrial waste annually.
The 70 MW plant, located at the site of the former Ferrybridge C power station, receives waste from over a dozen different suppliers and must continually monitor the material to ensure compliance with environmental regulations – as well as to ensure smooth operation of the facility.
Each supplier sends samples of their material to external laboratories for analytical testing before the results are delivered directly to Multifuel Energy’s site for collation. Key analyses include net calorific value, moisture content and chlorine level.
Collating this information was a time-consuming task for Claire Spencer, plant chemist, environmental officer and fuels liaison. Several test laboratories were used, each with similar, but different, reporting formats.
Results were entered manually, which occasionally allowed data entry errors to creep in, says Spencer.
Checking these involved laboriously reviewing each value, and although most suppliers took samples on a weekly basis, some reported daily and not every test was carried out on each sample.
In seeking a solution, Multifuel Energy collaborated with resource recovery specialist Axion Consulting to develop a data analysis tool in order to simplify and streamline this process.
The tool was designed to import data at the click of a button and accounts for the variations in reporting format used by different labs.
Data errors are automatically detected and the user is prompted to correct them, while data reporting has also been improved, says Axion Consulting.
Previously, checking and formatting the data to produce a weekly report could take hours. It says the same report can now be generated in seconds, and this functionality has been extended to produce reports over any time period; for example, monthly or yearly with no additional effort.
Axion’s spreadsheet system for the fuels combines all the data testing in one model…This is an essential part of the quality monitoring process for what goes into the plant to generate power
Claire Spencer, chemist, environmental officer & fuels liaison, Multifuel Energy
The tool also integrates data from Multifuel Energy’s weighbridge, allowing the creation of new reports such as an estimate of the total infeed composition by taking a weighted average of each site’s analyses.
“Axion’s spreadsheet system for the fuels combines all the data testing in one model that accurately describes the infeed materials and identifies contract compliance. This is an essential part of the quality monitoring process for what goes into the plant to generate power,” says Spencer. “
The data tool has certainly made my job easier, saving time on analytical reports and putting the information into a straightforward format for management review.”
Axion’s senior engineer Sam Haig says that the system provides reports that help support both a company’s technical operation and contractual agreements with its suppliers, so the material will not exceed certain limits.
“As well as reducing the time taken for a plant chemist to enter and analyse the data, it also allows the viewing of information and trends that perhaps may have been missed before,” says Haig.
“By streamlining the process, it provides ‘headline’ figures for speedier analysis. An added advantage of our system is that it can be applied to a variety of other process applications that require accurate and rapid analysis of complex data.”