A Rubbish Heru
Imagine there was a whizzy gadget that could turn your household waste into a spoonful of ash and at the same time also heat the water in your home for good measure? No imagining required. For the Home Energy Resources Unit or HERU does precisely that. Here’s how it works. First the main chamber of the washing machine-sized appliance is filled with all sorts of rubbish from coffee cups and plastic bottles to grass cuttings and food trays. The machine then begins an eight hour cycle during which the rubbish is first heated up to 100 degrees. This heats up and removes water from the waste, as well as oxygen from inside the chamber. The temperature then cranks up another notch to trigger a process called pyrolysis. This turns the waste into a charcoal-like substance. Finally, oxygen is added back into the chamber while the pyrolised rubbish is burned to heat up more water. Hey presto! By the end of the cycle the chamber is empty but for a small amount of ash and some gases that are put to good use in a domestic boiler. Meanwhile the hot water that is produced is stored in a standard hot water tank. HERU, which is being designed in Evesham, Worcestershire, is still at the prototype stage however a testing programme in homes and businesses is now underway. If all goes to plan, HERU could be rolling off the production lines in 2019/20, and who knows the days of cramming rubbish into black bins and expensive heating bills could soon be over.