(Thu 1st Nov 2007)
Bio fuels have been under the spotlight of late as the debate over food versus fuel continues apace. Using a non essential food resource such as Sugar beet may prove to be less controversial than using other staple food resources.
The plant, which is located alongside the world's largest sugar beet factory at Wissington, Norfolk will produce 70 million litres of bioethanol annually from locally grown sugar beet. The sugar factory's efficient combined heat and power plant also provides energy for the bioethanol plant ensuring that bioethanol produced here delivers a carbon emissions saving of at least 60% compared to fossil derived petrol.
Firemain provided Hall & Kay (www.hkfire.co.uk) the level 4 LPC sprinkler contractor to the project with 5 electrically operated Remote Control Monitors mounted on 6m towers following a comprehensive risk assessment of the proposed development. 16,000 litres of an alcohol resistant AFFF 3% foam was chosen to deal with the Ethanol hazard. We also supplied the HDPE concentrate tank coupled to a FireDos Turbofoam skid to accurately proportion the foam.
The plant began production trials in September 2007, reached design throughput within the first two weeks of operation and produced fuel grade bioethanol within three days of start up. The first batch of UK-produced bioethanol was delivered to the UK market during the week commencing September 24.
British Sugar takes pride in the sustainability of its operations. Nothing is wasted. The sugar beet itself, after the sugar is extracted, is marketed for high-energy animal feed. Molasses, the final syrup from which no more sugar may be extracted, is used as a feedstock by the fermentation industry. The small amount of soil adhering to the sugar beet is marketed to landscapers, architects and farmers, ensuring that this valuable non-renewable resource is used in a sustainable way. The lime products produced as part of the purification process are sold under the LimeX brand for soil conditioning. Even the stones delivered along with the sugar beet are separated, graded and washed and sold. At the Wissington site, in addition to the bioethanol plant, the sustainability is further extended by an associated horticulture operation where around 70 million tomatoes are grown each year in the UK's largest glasshouse - 11 hectares - benefiting from waste heat and CO2 from the sugar factory's power plant.
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