West Sussex MBT Facility - Energy from Waste (EfW) Cranes

The new Mechanical Biological Treatment Facility in West Sussex has been designed to divert up to 80% of West Sussex’s residual waste away from landfill, extracting recyclable materials and using the remainder to produce renewable energy. At full capacity, the facility will produce up to 3.5 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power around 7000 homes.

Working on behalf of M+W Group and Biffa, SCX Special Projects designed and installed two semi-automatic 15 tonne cranes which will work in tandem to collect the waste and feed it into two shredders for processing.

Ordinarily, EfW cranes are fully-automated, but with this system handling untreated black bag waste, a level of manual sorting is necessary to prevent the processing of dangerous materials, so these cranes were adapted to be semi-automated. They also feature regenerative braking, whereby instead of losing the kinetic energy as heat, it is fed back into the system to produce electricity, in keeping with the ethos of the plant.

Man operating an energy for waste crane using a control chair

The high-speed cranes travel at 90m/min and lift at 45m/min, processing up to 45 tonnes/hr.

The semi-automatic cranes are primarily operator-driven via control chairs, located in booths set into the wall above the gantry.  The crane features an automatic ‘go-to-shredder’ function with two-button activation and a hold-to-run feature to ensure safety.

Energy from Waste grab on a single gantry

Running on a single gantry, normal operation restricts each crane to half of the pit area, either side of the shredders, to prevent a collision. Full encoder mapping provides precise positional feedback and proximity sensors restrict each crane to its own working area. In the event of a breakdown, the working crane can recover the other by pushing it into the maintenance zone; the control booths can select either crane at the push of a button, but allow only one working crane in each half at any time.

Controls for an Energy from Waste crane

Hard-wired limit switches prevent collision with the walls and on-crane hydraulic dampers act as a failsafe backup in the unlikely event of limit switch failure. Sensors on the truck inlet barriers automatically restrict the cranes from entering any area occupied by an unloading lorry. Load cells on the grabs provide a log of the plant throughput.

4.7m diameter orange-peel grab on an energy from waste crane

The 4.7m diameter orange-peel grabs hold up to 10m3 of waste. An anti-sway function protects against collision with the walls. One crane also features a 5 tonne auxiliary hoist for maintenance or use in the event of a shredder blockage.

Energy from Waste control cabinets are remotely located to avoid contamination from the waste

The control cabinets are remotely located to avoid contamination from the waste. This area also provides restricted access onto the cranes’ access platforms for maintenance. A trapped key interlock system ensures crane shutdown before opening the safety gates. A maintenance key then allows restricted crane speeds purely for maintenance purposes. 

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SCX Special Projects Ltd

Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, S9 1GA, United Kingdom

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199