Incinerator Bottom Ash – Preparation, Testing and Monitoring

As part of our portfolio of services, we provide Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) preparation, testing, analysis and also consultancy support.

Why Test Incinerator Bottom Ash?

IBA is the ash that is left over after waste has been burnt in an incinerator. Depending on the composition of the waste, IBA can contain a number of materials including metals, rubble and concrete. Approximately 1 million tonnes of IBA are produced throughout England and Wales each year (ESAUK), while larger materials can be reused, there is a duty of care for the site operator to characterise the rest of the ash as hazardous or non-hazardous in accordance with an EA agreed IBA Sampling Protocol before choosing a waste disposal route.

Testing and Analysis for Incinerator Bottom Ash

Our environmental chemistry laboratory has vast experience in testing IBA and has even developed a methodology to reduce turnaround times to five days for most determinands. To test the metals for IBA, we typically digest the ash with aqua regia and analyse the sample using ICPMS or ICPOES. We understand your challenges and therefore stress the importance of getting a homogeneous sample, to reduce the risk of re-sampling which can be costly both in terms of money and time.  In analysing the metals and other relevant determinands, we can then classify the IBA, as either hazardous or non-hazardous in accordance with the WM3 guidance and by following the current ESA protocol guidelines.

Monitoring Incinerator Bottom Ash

Monitoring IBA is a requirement for all energy from waste incinerators that have an Environment Agency permit. However, depending on the suite of analysis required, the frequency of test can vary, being as often as monthly to as infrequent as quarterly. In the case of IBA testing during the site commissioning period, a Sampling Protocol may initially require IBA sampling and analysis on a twice weekly basis.

SOCOTEC can offer ongoing monitoring and testing for IBA using our accredited laboratories. The analysis suite includes (but may not be limited to):

  • Dioxins & furans and dioxin like furans
  • Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH)
  • VOC’s
  • Heavy metals
  • pH, alkali reserve and cyanides
  • In-vitro skin irritancy

What about APCr?

Air Pollution Control Residue (APCr) is a by-product of cleaning the flue gases following the combustion process, and the waste gases are discharged from the chimney. The APCr are classed as an absolute hazardous waste and would not usually require testing for the purpose of hazardous waste classification. However, it is a usual permit requirement to test APCr to characterize the waste for disposal. SOCOTEC can monitor your APCr residue, with our scope of tests including dioxins & furans, as well as heavy metals. We are able offer regular, monitoring and testing to keep you compliant with your permit requirements.  

Also, if your site changes its recycling route, then we can offer the necessary leachable metals analysis that is a usual permit requirement with a five day turnaround on results.

IBA Assessment and Consultancy

SOCOTEC are also able to provide expert consultancy support to help you to develop and implement a Sampling Protocol to assess the “Hazard Status” of your IBA and Fly Ash residues. Our consultants have an established track record of developing and preparing Sampling Protocols for Incinerator plants that accept various waste materials. We have successfully negotiated with the regulators on our clients behalf to achieve an optimised outcome in terms of both delivery timescales and costs minimisation.  Our IBA related consultancy services include;

  • Client and Regulator Liaising
  • Permit Compliance
  • Sampling Protocol Development
  • Residue Assessment and Waste Classification

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