One of Italy's largest waste-to-energy plants uses our flue gas treatment solution

In Europe, thanks to stringent regulation, the majority of our garbage is disposed of in waste-to-energy (WtE) plants, where it’s incinerated to produce energy instead of ending up in landfills. That’s a good thing of course, but these plants, generally located close to cities to minimize transportation, generate emissions that have to be efficiently filtered in order to protect the health of local populations. And that’s where Solvay comes in.

SOLVAir® is our solution for cleaning the exhaust gases from all types of industrial activities, from cement factories to WtE plants, and even ships. It’s a so-called dry sorbent injection system (DSI) whereby a sodium-based sorbent is injected into the exhaust before it comes out of the smokestack. By reacting with the noxious molecules contained in flue gases, things like sulfur oxides and hydrochloric acid, it forms salts that can be easily captured instead of gushing out into the atmosphere.

SOLVAir®’s dry sorbent injection system is recognized as the most efficient (and cost effective) flue gas cleaning technology available on the market, thanks to the high rate of reactiveness of its sodium-based sorbent with the unwanted molecules – and the fact that this is a completely safe and harmless reagent, making its use all the easier.

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Exhaust treatment across the board

With its high population density and intense economic activity, Northern Italy is a region where waste disposal needs are particularly high and the necessity to comply with stringent air quality standards is particularly acute. Therefore, it only makes sense that local operators have turned to SOLVAir® for their exhaust cleaning needs. Such is the case for TRM (Trattamento Rifiuti Metropolitani), the company managing Turin’s waste-to-energy plant.

Processing 550,000 tons of municipal solid waste per year, this is the fourth largest facility in Italy, part of Gruppo Iren, a company belonging to the municipalities of Turin, Genes and several other northern Italian cities, that runs two other WtE plants, in Piacenza and Parma. 

“Solvay’s flue gas treatment is used at all three of our facilities,” explains Claudio Mazzeri, the CEO of TRM. “We’ve been working with them since the early 2000s, and I’d say we have a very good working relationship.”

Thanks to the effectiveness of the SOLVAir® sorbent as a reagent, the cost of flue gas treatment is reasonable. But what matters the most is its efficiency.

Claudio Mazzari, CEO Trattamento Rifiuti Metropolitani, Turin, Italy.

“Since the beginning of our collaboration, we applied all our energy to support TRM’s efforts for sustainable waste-to-energy operations by providing effective flue gas cleaning and recycling solutions,” adds Stefano Brivio SOLVAir® Head of Sales for Southern Europe. “It has been a long but pleasant journey, as TRM and Solvay speak the same language of sustainability.”

When the Turin plant was built in 2014, the SOLVAir® sorbent injection system was incorporated from the very beginning. “We had experience with the Piacenza plant, which had been successfully using the system since its inauguration in 2002,” says Claudio. “Thanks to the effectiveness of the SOLVAir® sorbent as a reagent, we only used about 20 kilograms per ton of waste to achieve very stringent emission targets, so despite the high volume of waste we handle, the cost is reasonable.”

Since the beginning of our collaboration, we applied all our energy to support TRM’s efforts for sustainable waste-to-energy operations. It has been a long but pleasant journey, as TRM and Solvay speak the same language of sustainability.

Stefano Brivio, Head of Sales Southern Europe, SOLVAir®

Efficiency and circularity

That being said, “What matters the most is efficiency. To us, effective pollution abatement is more important than just the cost,” stresses Claudio. For a facility such as TRM, complying with regulatory limits for acid gases is crucial to avoid penalties, and more importantly to grant good air quality to neighboring communities. Thanks to SOLVAir®, the hydrochloric acid content in its flue gas is easily reduced to 2-3 milligrams per cubic meter (down from 900-1000mg before treatment). As for sulfur oxides, they’re brought down to zero.

What’s more, the residue from TRM’s flue gas cleaning is sent to our Solvay facility in Rosignano, on the Tuscan coast. There, the captured salts are recycled and re-enter the industrial cycle at our soda ash production facility, in a compelling application of the principles of the circular economy. “For all these reasons, going with SOLVAir® was the obvious choice for us right from the start,” concludes Claudio.