Preserving natural resources

Preserving natural resources

Preserving natural resources
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Globally, John Cockerill develops solutions to reduce the consumption and waste of natural resources, to clean and purify water and air, to allow access to drinking water, etc. In this perspective, in 2019, our teams have:
– Installed a municipal waste odor treatment solution (La Reunion)
– Developed a solution for converting peat into activated carbon (Finland)
– Facilitated access to safe drinking water (Kenya)
– Developed a gasification solution for household waste (France)

Treating waste free of odor

An alternative to landfill

Reunion Island has adopted a proactive policy regarding household waste. Its new processing center will recycle more than 130 000 tons each year: sorting recyclable materials and converting them into compost and fuel. Which will take the pressure off the landfills. The Suez subsidiary in charge of the project has commissioned John Cockerill to design and install an air and odor treatment solution.

78 fans and 4 treatment units

Samuel, the Sales Manager, says: “Sorting and treating 130 000 tons of waste every year without odor is a major challenge. The center consists of 18 000 m2, divided into specific areas. In 2019, our teams designed and installed the equipment to ensure an optimal airflow between the zones, activated by 78 induction fans. They carry the air to be treated to our four physicochemical and bio-filtration treatment units. It is a matter of great pride for us to help clean the air that the entire population of Reunion Island breathe.

John Cockerill’s teams have already felt this pride in being useful to their customers, and more broadly to the whole community, during projects in Canada, Poland or China, where they have deployed air and odor treatment solutions of this kind in recent years.

Turning peat into activated carbon

Capturing the pollutants

Since ancient times, activated carbon has been used to capture pollutants in liquids and gases. Today, it can be found in industry, in the communities, in our kitchens and even in pharmacies. With the population boom and the need to preserve natural resources, demand is spiraling. In this context, a Finnish customer launched a technical challenge for John Cockerill in 2019: ‘Is it possible to transform peat into activated carbon on an industrial scale?’ Finland does, in fact, have many peat deposits, which could be exploited for more than just fuel.

Proof positive on the industrial pilot

Marianne, Sales Manager, is delighted: “We examined this question with enthusiasm, and were able to meet this challenge! By conducting tests on our ‘NESA®’ pilot facility, we were able to design and validate the industrial process in close collaboration with the customer: the best peat, and therefore the best site for the future facility, close to the deposits, have been identified; we have developed a process that allows the carbonization and activation of the material in a single passage in a multiple hearth furnace, without energy input, with an excellent result. This technical innovation is a world first! It was a great pleasure to provide the customer with a solution that meets his needs, after having tested it on our pilot installation. He signed right up.

In 2019, John Cockerill Nesa also supplied carbonization and mineral coal activation facilities in Siberia, as well as facilities for the regeneration of activated carbon – spent this time – in Belgium.

Providing drinking water to those who need it


For a large part of the population of Kenya, access to water is a real issue. Especially in rural areas, where, according to the World Bank, only 12% of households are connected to the water network. The authorities are therefore launching a vast program to facilitate access to drinking and sanitary water. And have asked John Cockerill to assist them.

Water for 300 000 people

Dominique, the Project Manager, explains: “We are carrying out major projects in three provinces in Kenya, with the support of the Belgian State. They range from well drilling to the renovation and construction of water treatment plants, up to the supply system. We have made it a point of honor to use photovoltaic energy to power the installations, so that they are both more sustainable and less dependent on the availability of the electricity grid. As far as the Kajiado project is concerned, a good part of the wells has been built. We designed and shipped the equipment and prepared the infrastructure on site in 2019, and we will be commissioning the facilities in 2020. This is enough to provide access to water to 300 000 people and to the breeders for their animal herds. And enough to make all the John Cockerill teams proud.

Extracting value from millions of tons of organic waste

Dare you?

The public stakeholders in the treatment of wastewater and municipal waste in the Ile-de-France region* have set a challenge for industrialists and researchers: to maximize the production of injectable bio-methane in the natural gas network starting from the organic fraction of residual municipal waste and sewage sludge. Under three conditions: to show a positive energy balance, minimize the ultimate waste and recover the nutrients.

Double dare you!

The first challenge of the research phase was brilliantly met by the specialists at John Cockerill and their partners**. Thomas, the Project Manager of the research phase, explains: “In 2019, we completed the R&D phase, backed up by tests. By combining substrates, we were able to achieve a higher environmental performance than with separate pathways, and thanks to judicious blending and an innovative combination of proven technologies, we have maximized the production of injected bio-methane on the network. The residual chemical energy is converted into thermal energy, and the nutrients are extracted from the ultimate residues in order to recycle as many elements as possible.” The solution was convincing. As part of a second phase, John Cockerill’s teams and their partners will spend the next 36 months building a pilot unit in order to confirm the expected performance under real conditions. So that, in the end, waste will go hand in hand with progress.

* In the Paris area, Syctom processes and recycles 2.3 million tons of waste per year, and SIAAP treats 2.3 million m3 of wastewater every day.

** For this project, John Cockerill is bringing together the expertise of three of its subsidiaries (Proserpol, Europe Environnement and Nesa) and has joined forces with the company Sources and with the engineering colleges Institut UniLaSalle de Beauvais and the Compiègne University of Technology.

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Preserving natural resources