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Explaining Denaturing Asbestos and Thermal Technology

Welcome to the latest update from Thermal Recycling, looking at the process of denaturing asbestos and sharing more about thermal technology.

What does denaturing asbestos mean?

The technology that we have developed denatures asbestos. Denaturing is a scientific term that means little to people who are not scientists. We have been thinking of ways to describe what we do using more accessible language such as eradicating, eliminating or destroying asbestos. However, whilst we may choose to use some or all of these terms, they do not completely capture what we do.

Denaturing in the context of treating asbestos means “destroying the characteristic properties of a substance by heat, acidity or other effect”.
Once a substance has been denatured it is no longer the same. Denaturing means that after it has been denatured it is no longer asbestos.

In a future newsletter, I will talk about what the treated material becomes.

The Advantages of Thermal Technology

Academic studies have demonstrated that there are a number of different ways to denature asbestos. Heat is widely recognised as the most developed approach. Other approaches include using chemicals, mechanical processes or biological processes. Until now no one has found the way to denature asbestos waste on an industrial scale.

The beauty of thermal technology is that it does not require any pre-treatment of the asbestos, addition of any chemicals or reliance on mechanical processes. This means that it is the most predictable and reliable process. Providing the heat is applied in the right way the asbestos will have been denatured.
Proving that it works

Our commissioning plans which have been agreed with the Environment Agency are designed to prove that our process works. We have a state of the art system for measuring the temperatures within the kiln so that we know exactly how much heat has been applied to different parts of the load.

We are also undertaking extensive testing of the treated material from each load we treat using all types of microscopy – polarised light (PLM), scanning electron (SEM) and transmission electron (TEM) – to ensure that no asbestos has been detected. We have now proven that we have a consistent and reliable approach which can cost-effectively denature asbestos on an industrial scale.

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