Recently, as severe climate change is felt, various technologies to recycle waste have been developed, and awareness of waste as a resource is expanding. The government is also focusing on policies to expand the recycling rate instead of landfilling and incinerating.
Uwa Tech (CEO Kitae Park) is a company that is attracting attention by developing Korea’s first ‘sludge drying system using supercritical CO2 (carbon dioxide)’ and presenting innovative solutions for waste treatment and recycling.
|▲ Uwa Tech / CEO Kitae Park
Development and commercialization of supercritical CO2 (carbon dioxide) drying system
CEO Park came to know supercritical cleaning systems while majoring in seawater desalination during his doctoral studies at Sungkyunkwan University.
He says “I started testing the supercritical cleaning system technology because I thought it would be more valuable to use it on the waste side. After that, I decided to start a business to create a social enterprise with a focus on a carbon-neutral platform.”
Uwa Tech, which began developing the ‘Supercritical CO2 Sludge Drying System’ in earnest in 2018, completed the design and manufacture of the facility in 2021. Last year, the company completed demonstration pilot tests and performance verification, and is about to distribute full-scale products.
He says “In fact, supercritical technology is a technology that is used in various fields such as food, medicine, and semiconductors. It is often used for semiconductor cleaning, making decaf coffee, and extracting omega-3 or proteins into small molecules. It is the first time that we have challenged an organic waste drying system.”
Developing a carbon reduction platform through waste recycling technology
The ‘Supercritical CO2 Drying System’ developed by Uwa Tech is an integrated technology for high-efficiency drying and carbonization using supercritical CO2.
CEO Park says “We have approached a system that primarily dries sewage sludge with supercritical CO2 technology. Since then, we have been testing and finding ways to apply supercritical CO2 technology in various ways to turn it into something valuable.”
The company has developed a system for drying or resourcing sewage sludge (sludge), livestock manure, and coffee foil with supercritical CO2 technology of dehydration drying method by medium temperature and high pressure.
The company’s sludge dry carbonization technology is an upcycling technology that turns organic waste from sewage treatment plant sludge into carbonate minerals, fertilizers, urea, and solid fuels through a supercritical CO2 dewatering and drying system. This method shows high efficiency and eco-friendliness because the energy required and CO2 generation are less than 50% compared to the existing direct drying method by hot air, indirect drying by steam heat, and drying method using microwaves.
A company official said that the main sources of demand will be places where organic sludge is generated, wastewater treatment plants, and meat processing companies that produce oil-rich sludge.
The company is also developing and distributing technology that can turn livestock manure and coffee foil into compost, solid fuel pellets, and biocha through a supercritical CO2 drying system.
If the existing drying system required more than 3 months for composting and liquefying pig manure, this method can be processed and produced on the same day with biochar or pellets.
In addition, the company also introduced a ‘waste activated carbon regeneration system’ that uses supercritical CO2 technology to recycle waste activated carbon discarded after use in water pollution prevention facilities such as sewage treatment plants or air pollution prevention facilities.
Uwa Tech is developing a ‘waste resourcing platform’ that can integrate IoT and blockchain-based waste collection, treatment, and upcycling product sales with supercritical drying technology.
This is a collection system that can be equipped with sensors in pig farms or coffee shops to receive and monitor location and occurrence information in real time through a mobile app.
Park says “We are building a system based on IoT and blockchain for collection, and we are trying to secure sales routes by finding demand or sales destinations. We are also preparing to attract external investment to build an overall platform.”
The company has received patents related to drying systems, and has applied for about 7 patents such as waste activated carbon regeneration, livestock manure treatment, and coffee grounds treatment.
An eco-friendly company that contributes to society
Uwa Tech is a company that contributes to job creation and carbon neutrality, and plans to grow into an eco-friendly company that plays a positive role in society by supplying upcycling products at low prices.
Park says “We measured the calorific value of a pallet made from coffee grounds and it came out to be about 6,400 calories per kilogram. Coal imported from abroad produces about 5,700-5,800 cal/kg, which is a higher heat generation than coal. In the face of severe fuel shortages around the world, we are researching ways to distribute solid fuel pellets cheaply.”
He adds “We will continue to develop technology to become a global company that provides alternatives to environmental problems and contributes to the improvement of human quality of life as a company specializing in eco-friendly waste upcycling.”
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