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Cleantech waste management solution for Mecca

Cleantech pneumatic conveying systems specialist, MariMatic, has been contracted to design and supply the world’s largest automated solid waste collection system – to provide a cleaner and more attractive environment for the millions of pilgrims visiting Mecca and the world’s largest mosque there.

Waste is a growing problem everywhere and intense efforts are under way around the world to develop new and better systems for sorting and processing it, recycling it, or converting it into fuel for energy and other uses. Waste collection continues to be a bottleneck in many places, however.

Drawing on its decades of expertise in pneumatic conveying and its position as the leading global supplier of industrial waste collection systems, MariMatic has developed the MetroTaifun® automated solid waste collection system (AWCS) as a solution to this challenge.

MetroTaifun™ is designed to overcome the shortcomings of existing municipal waste collection systems, many of which are highly labour-intensive and inefficient and can break down altogether as a result of system overload or strikes. It does this by using a series of interconnected pipe networks to collect solid waste and litter and deliver it to waste stations, where it is fed into containers before being transported to recycling centres for onward processing or treatment.

As MetroTaifun® is highly scalable and flexible, it can be used for improving the waste management of a single building or an entire neighbourhood. MariMatic is currently installing Finland’s largest AWCS to serve an entire district of the country’s second-largest city, Tampere.

When completed, it will be capable of managing the collection of solid waste generated by 13,000 residents and 5,000 employees. The network of pipes linking 124 collection locations and 368 waste inlets will stretch some 13.5 kilometres in all, and the system will be capable of handling 13 tonnes of dry waste, bio waste, recycled paper, and cardboard a day.

The MetroTaifun® system being installed in Tampere, Finland will link 124 collection locations and 368 waste inlets.

The world’s largest AWCS

The Tampere system will be small compared to the one that MariMatic has been contracted to supply to the world’s largest mosque, Al-Masjid al-Harām, in Mecca, however.

Saudi Arabia has spent billions of euros in recent years on improving the safety and comfort of pilgrims, and is now expanding the site to better serve the millions of visitors who come to the mosque every year. The MariMatic project is an integral part of this work.

The new automated solid waste collection system will have a daily collection capacity of 900 tonnes of solid waste, which will be collected and transferred through a 30 kilometrelong network of pipes to a waste station, where it will be compacted into containers.

Deliveries of materials for the initial phase of the project began in spring 2012 and the system is due to be handed over to the customer in 2013.

As the mosque expansion project progresses, the MetroTaifun® system will be further expanded to meet the site’s needs.

The world’s largest mosque, Al-Masjid al-Harām, will soon benefit from the world’s largest automated solid waste collection system, capable of handling 900 tonnes of waste daily.

Simply better technology

MariMatic has invested millions of euros in R&D over the last few years, and the MetroTaifun® system is protected by an extensive portfolio of international patents and patents pending. This has seen MariMatic become the technology leader in the field, and the company expects to become the international market leader within the next five years.

In contrast to other systems, which were originally developed decades ago at a time when energy consumption and emissions were not a high priority, MetroTaifun® technology reduces the amount of energy involved in waste collection. A MetroTaifun® system consumes only a third of the energy that a traditional pipe collection system uses, and half that of systems which rely on traditional waste trucks and containers. Lower energy consumption means lower emissions of pollutants such as CO2 and NOx. The system also features innovative technology designed to reduce odour, noise, and particulate emissions.

A key improvement has involved reducing pipe diameters from 400 – 600 mm to 200 – 300 mm. This has been made possible by the MariMatic-developed Formator, which also virtually eliminates one of the biggest problems encountered with traditional pipe waste collection systems – blockages – caused by the wide variations in the size and weight of waste items. Thanks to the Formator, waste can be automatically reshaped as it is fed into the system. A smaller pipe size also reduces the amount of exhaust air generated, protecting the environment from unpleasant odour and harmful particles, and makes it possible to remove any blockages that do form automatically and reduce contaminant levels in the pipe system.

Smaller pipes and equipment translate into quick and economic installation and reduce capital costs. The compact dimensions of MetroTaifun® technology also makes it easy to retrofit a system into existing infrastructure.

> Jari Enontekiö
(Published in HighTech Finland 2013)