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A hidden harvest

Before a former landfill site could be used to grow crops for biomass fuel, a careful inspection was needed. To do this, the Waste Recycling group took advantage of the Mira ground penetrating radar system. NCE reports.

Restored landfill sites around the country are set to be producing a new form of green electricity with the help of revolutionary new radar technology

The Waste Recycling Group has been using the Mira (Malå Imaging Radar Array) system, supplied by LTU, a leading provider of underground utility detectors, to look below the surface of former landfill sites and check the location and depth of buried gas pipes.

The Mira system was used to quickly locate utility pipes deep beneath the surface of a number of disused landfill sites so that the company could safely plant energy-producing biomass crops on the land.

Utility detection

Mira delivers accurate 3D radar acquisition, interpretation and reporting of subsurface infrastructure and can be used to detect archaeological & geological features and utilities below the ground.

The array has 16 channels that read the ground at different depths simultaneously. It performs up to 50 times faster than traditional ground penetrating radar (GPR) methods so is ideal for surveys of large areas.
Waste Recycling Group senior restoration and energy crops manager Mark Pailing explains: “We were really impressed with the capabilities of the Mira system, having never used this equipment before. It’s surpassed our expectations and helped us to speed up the process of giving ex-landfill sites a new, greener purpose.

“Mira has helped us to quickly and accurately detect how we can use our cultivation equipment on various sites to safely plant the biomass crops without causing damage to the underground pipes.

“The first phase of this project has been a great success and we’ll definitely be looking to use the system again for similar activity next year.”

“Mira is highly sophisticated piece of equipment that can quickly and accurately detect minute underground features”

Pete Bevils, LTU

The Waste Recycling Group trialled Mira for pipe detection in November 2010 and has since gone on to use it at an additional nine sites around the Yorkshire, Humberside and Nottingham regions.

So far 80ha of biomass crops have been planted on former sites and will take about two years to mature before harvest. The energy produced will then be supplied to the Drax power station.

LTU managing director Pete Bevils says: “We take our green credentials very seriously and so it’s been a fantastic exercise being involved in the ongoing Waste Recycling Group project. Our Mira system is a versatile and highly sophisticated piece of equipment that can quickly and accurately detect minute underground features.

Health and safety

“It is an effective tool to deploy from a health and safety perspective as well as from a planning and asset management perspective due to the accuracy of the information collected.”

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