We talk to the sustainable fuel provider about its market-leading product Subcoal®, which turns waste pellets into fuel
The hunt for effective and affordable alternative fuels for industrial and commercial use is helping Dutch firm N+P Group boost its business in the UK.
The privately owned group will shortly open its new production facility in Teesside to manufacture its patented fuel pellets, branded Subcoal, that are made from non-recyclable waste.
The company is winning new clients in the UK and overseas, and the factory will soon produce around 110,000 tonnes of pellets annually, following the construction and commissioning phase.
Subcoal is made from refining paper, cardboard and plastic waste, with the resulting pellets burning more effectively than other alternative fuels, partly due to the very low moisture content within the pellet.
This is a proprietary technology to upgrade SRF (solid recovered fuel) with the resulting pellets being used to displace coal and petroleum coke in industries such as power generation, cement and lime manufacture, and in the combustion process of steel blast furnaces.
Another feature of Subcoal is its high biomass content, in excess of 50pc. This feature has attracted large industries such as cement making, because it assists in the management of their CO2 footprint.
Interest is also being stirred up by government pressure to encourage businesses to operate in a more environmentally friendly way. The green taxes introduced in recent years have added to producers’ costs, and so force waste-producing industries to look for new innovative solutions to improve their environmental performance.
A good example of these government-driven policies is the focus on increasing the cost of disposal of waste by increasing landfill taxes. In 1996, the government adopted an annual escalator to the existing Landfill Tax, which severely penalised waste producers.
The production of Subcoal is therefore seen as a very efficient alternative to landfilling non-recyclable waste streams, and converting such materials into a valuable resource.
One of the biggest contracts already won by N+P in the UK is to supply Subcoal to the Uskmouth coal-fired power station in south Wales when it converts to using 100pc biomass in 2021 following its acquisition in June 2018 by Simec Atlantis Energy (SAE).
SAE will take nearly a million tonnes of Subcoal pellets per annum, and this contract alone means that in addition to the Teesside plant, N+P will need to build and commission a further four Subcoal production facilities.
The development of the Subcoal concept, which N+P acquired the rights to in 2013, has also resulted in various investments in the production facility in Delfzijl, in the north of the Netherlands. The site has seen a total investment of more than four million Euros and the production of Subcoal pellets has been increased by around 30pc.
A leading-edge brand
For most of its 25-plus year history the N+P Group has been focused on developing, coordinating and implementing concepts for recycling industrial waste. It has become a recognised leader in converting waste into alternative fuels and raw materials rather than sending it to landfill or to a waste incinerator.
In a constantly changing environment, N+P has become well-known for developing innovative concepts and this has led to an extensive portfolio of alternative fuels for several industrial applications. The company processes and supplies more than two million tonnes of waste streams every year, with a significant volume now supplied from the UK.
N+P is incredibly ambitious and Subcoal is fast becoming its flagship product, following the construction of the Teeside production plant that already employs more than 30 full-time staff.
The company has a local UK office in Melton Mowbray, and the strategy for the N+P Alternative Fuels Ltd subsidiary is being led by managing director and chemical engineer Neville Roberts. He has spent years advising businesses in the use of alternative fuels in a number of industrial sectors.
“N+P understands the waste market in the UK and Europe and is a proven expert in converting that waste into added-value fuels,” he says. “We also offer clients process engineering support so they can make the most of using our fuel.”
There are still some challenges for N+P because many traditional industries remain unsure regarding the mostly subjective fears associated with the use of waste derived fuels.
“There can be a nervousness around the process and a wrong perception among some people that they are bringing waste into their business, and that this must be bad. The truth is that the alternative fuels that N+P produces are, firstly, much more highly regulated than traditional fossil fuels, and the associated process emissions are much cleaner. For example, the emissions of oxides of nitrogen can be more than halved when converting from fossil fuels to alternative fuels,” says Roberts.
Customer service has always been important to N+P, particularly around helping clients understand the legalities of transporting and processing waste. The company has an extensive library of analytical data regarding waste disposal, which means it can provide specifically-targeted advice for how waste streams are treated, handled and processed.
In the race to find sustainable, efficient and effective non-conventional and advanced fuels, N+P Group is among those leading the field.