Below you will find a series of the most frequently asked questions* about the HERU. If there is something below that is not clear or you have another question, do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*All answers are correct as at May 2018, as further data becomes available through field trials and engineering developments we will update the information on regular reviews. This information is to be read as an informed guideline only.
When will I be able to purchase a HERU unit?
Our plan is to have HERU in production in 2020.
How much will HERU cost to run?
As you can imagine, the mix of material that can be placed in the HERU will be different in most properties. The moisture levels will vary too. The dryer the matter the better the Co-Efficiency of Performance (COP). An average mix in the home is about 47% moisture. From this, a COP of about 2.5 is expected. For each kWh of electric used in the HERU, the HERU produces about 2.5 kWh of energy into the hot water system.
For companies, there will also be the saving in the cost of disposal. Imagine using coffee cups, used coffee granules and milk bottles to make hot water to make coffee. We believe this is the circular economy in practice.
Will Government and Councils support the HERU?
Yes, the Government part-funded the proof of concept in 2017 through its Game Changing Fund.
Worcestershire Country Council’s carbon reduction program is part-funding the first field trial HERU’s this summer.
Wychavon District Council, Rugby Borough Council and Stratford upon Avon District Council are the first 3 Councils to trial the units this summer.
We have to remember, the resources within our homes belong to you, not the Council, unless you choose to discard them and present them to the Council. The current system of collecting and processing material comes at an overall cost to each Council.
The “power” is literally in your hands.
Are there toxic fumes or nasty smells?
No, there are no toxic fumes or bad smells released and the HERU DOES NOT release its exhaust directly to the atmosphere. The HERU is an air-tight system. The chamber is NOT a pressure vessel. The pressure relief is very low at 0.07 bar. The process of pyrolysis produces gas, this gas is delivered to a small storage tank which will be located outside the building on a wall. The tank is 25 litres in volume and the gas is compressed to 3 bar of pressure, therefore holding 75 liters of Syn gas (less than compressed gas in the fridge). The gas is then released to the domestic boiler along a metal pipe through a regulator just the same as mains gas or LPG enters your home.
How much will a HERU unit cost?
As with the first washing machines and VHF video recorders, the first HERUs will initially be expensive as they will be hand-built, however, this cost will come down significantly as more units enter production. The first units will suit hotels, restaurants, care homes etc where there is a charge to remove the resources these businesses currently discard. These sales to early adopters will serve to take HERU closer to a production line.
Our aim is to make the HERU no more expensive than that of a floor mounted boiler, at around £4,000. When produced in large numbers on production lines, we hope the cost will continue to become more and more affordable with excellent engineering practices and innovation.
The first 15 early adopter units will be approximately £15,000 including VAT. A reasonably low investment for large corporate organisations wishing to demonstrate a commitment to our environment and to enable the responsible management of our resources.
Will the HERU work with my conventional oil or gas boiler?
Yes it will, and we continue to test with various boilers and working closely with boiler manufacturers that share the same vision as we do for a cleaner environment and the more efficient use of resources.
Will the HERU take all plastics used for packaging that we bring into our home?
Yes, it will take all plastic packaging.
The HERU doesn’t just take plastic milk bottles and drinks bottle, it will utilise difficult plastics like yoghurt pots, clingfilm, black food trays, plastic bags from supermarkets and plastics that have been in contact with food, ear wax cleaners and nappies (which traditionally are problematic for recycling).
Where would I install my HERU?
All you will require is a double 13-amp socket, a water supply, a drain to the sewer (this can be within a few metres) and be as close to your water heating gas or oil boiler as possible (again this can be a few metres away).
You may decide you would like the HERU outside where your wheelie bin used to sit or inside the garage on an outside wall or on an outside wall.
The future generation of HERUs will likely evolve into front loaders like a traditional dishwasher, meaning the HERU could then be installed where you currently place your uneaten food, plastic containers, paper and card.
For larger commercial premises, like restaurants, and hotels, the HERU is likely to be outside the kitchen itself.
Does the HERU exhaust gas emissions?
The HERU in pyrolysis mode produces gas, this gas is sent to the boiler down a metal pipe (just like it does with your normal gas or oil) and is then combusted by the boiler. While the HERU is releasing the gas to your boiler, your boiler will slow down the gas it takes from the mains supply.
In simple terms, the exhaust of the HERU is your boiler exhaust
The HERU in combustion mode produces exhaust just like your BBQ, this exhaust is cleaned using water and standard washing machine detergent. The exhaust is then sent to your boiler and the boiler combusts the non-combusted carbon (essentially recovering energy) and at the same time acts like the catalytic convertor on your car exhaust, cleaning the exhaust to continue meeting boiler regulations.
What happens to the ash after combustion?
The journey of the ash is very interesting as it is a valuable resource too. The ash from the HERU has been tested repeatedly at Brunel University in London and is alkaline in substance, which is good for balancing the acid in soils and other environments.
The HERU recovers any fats in the ash (which essentially is energy leaving the ash) which will assist with the cleaning of the drains and at the same time reduce some acidity in the sewage system that can be caused by the gas boiler condensate.
The ash journey from the HERU offers a great way to start battling the tide of fat burgs that are growing within our sewers.
It is also interesting to note that the ash contains Lye. Lye when mixed with animal fat was how soap was invented (lye being the gritty substance in soap).
Do you know if HERU will be eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive?
We can’t see any reason at the moment why the renewable element of the resource placed in the HERU, which produces energy for your home, wouldn’t be eligible. We shall need to develop a formula from the averages of resources within the home that are renewable. One day we hope the HERU will drive all packaging to be a renewable and therefore the algorithms for the calculation of RHI could keep moving in the favour of renewables.
There is work in progress for the Government to accept the HERU and help drive this change and agree the percentage of the resource mix that is renewable, (garden trimmings, food, paper, card etc.
Will the HERU encourage packaging?
This is interesting, as the amount of packaging is at an incredible level with home deliveries – indeed, you can’t quite imagine how we could package products anymore. We believe the HERU will help drive renewables. It will enable creative packaging innovation through design and materials. Retailers have this conundrum whereby they must make packaging look appealing but at the same time recyclable while the dynamics of recycling are changing at a pace we have not seen before. China, for example, is not taking mixed plastics and mixed paper must be less than 0.5% contaminated. Any sign of food in a pizza box the UK and Chinese authorities have the right and indeed the power to return the entire container load of recyclables back to the licensed recycling facility it departed from and then an investigation is likely to take place.
We believe that packaging is resource. This resource comes in through your front door. When you turn your thermostat up the resource is in the form of oil or gas and comes up the pipe into your home, it the same thing as packaging just in a different form, except your packaging is serving a purpose before you turn it into energy. The more the consumer drives retailers to renewable packaging the greater the percentage of renewable energy the home consumes displacing the fossil fuel coming up the pipe.
Is the HERU an incinerator?
The HERU uses a process called Pyrolysis. This heats matter in the absence of oxygen. To incinerate is to burn and to burn you must have oxygen. So, the HERU does not incinerate the resource you place in it, rather it turns the matter into gas and a tiny amount of oil and a lot of char.
Your gas boiler burns the gas just the same as it burns the gas from the mains gas supply (which incidentally will have been created by pyrolysis). The tiny amount of oil is mixed with washing machine detergent and flushed just like washing your frying pan and dirty dishes in your dishwasher. The HERU then let’s air into the chamber, the char is then combusted within the HERU and looks like a BBQ inside glowing away, giving exhaust just like your boiler which runs over heat exchangers to heat your water.
Can the HERU be used outside the UK
Yes, the HERU is being designed so that it will work in countries with different voltage systems.
Is the HERU just for homes?
No, the HERU can be used in all sorts of environments where we live, work, play and enjoy ourselves.
What will I have left to recycle?
You will be left with a small number of clean recyclables (glass and metal) which may be collected from your home once a month or perhaps every other month.
Clean glass and metals are amongst the more stable of recyclables and can be mainly processed within the country of origin reducing road transportation and shipping.
Batteries, electrical goods, children’s toys and other larger items for recycling that wouldn’t normally fit in your bin can be taken to the recycling points recommended by your local authority.
Does the HERU release Dioxins?
The HERU DOES NOT release its exhaust directly to the atmosphere. The HERU exhaust is piped to the boiler. The boiler becomes the catalytic converter cleaning the exhaust to meet the standards the boiler is required to meet. While using the gas from the HERU, the boiler uses less gas off the grid.
Will I have space in my kitchen?
The HERU is the size of a standard washing machine, however, does not have to be in the kitchen, it may go in the garage or outside as the machine develops.
Can the HERU be scaled up in size?
From our discussions with scientists at Brunel University, yes it can. The heat pipe and the chamber can be scaled up. However, we have not tested this to date.
How much resource does the average home produce per day?
On average, about 2.5 kilos per day. The current HERU size will hold 7 kilos of food and about 4 kilos of fully mixed material.
Do any metals go down the drain?
We do advice that no metals are placed in the HERU, but any metal objects that accidentally placed in the upper part of the chamber (10mm or above) will remain in the chamber and should be removed after the process and then recycled as advised by your local authority. Any metal objects sub 10mm will go through the screen and will be caught in a U-bend pipe (like under your sink). You would then clean out and recycle as advised by your local authority.
Is the HERU safe in the house?
We are currently working towards the field trials to be installed summer 2018. During this testing, we will be working towards CE accreditation, which home appliances have to conform too.