The technologies - pyrolysis and gasification - have been used successfully elsewhere but have not previously been put together to process this type of waste.
"Nobody has put all these parts together before, but we thought why can't we do it at our plant," said development engineer Bob Waterson. "Every abattoir could have its own generator on site - they could all have their own modular power plant providing all their electricity."
The by-products of poultry and other meat have to be disposed of through rendering and incineration, which increases production costs. Faced with this Banham has developed and patented plans for a plant where the by-products are shredded, dried and then subjected to thermal treatment under contained conditions to produce a combustible gas.
This can then be used to power the continuing process, run a deodorising unit and fuel an electricity generator.
Food manufacturers are increasingly looking at new means of powering their factories and plants. There is a great deal of legislative pressure on plant managers to cut down on emissions and waste, and Banham's solution is one of several new ideas that could move the industry towards renewable means of power.
For example, a hydrogen generation plant is currently being built in Offstein for major German confectionery processor Südzucker. Systems manufacturer Mahler IGS and industrial gas giant Messer Griesheim are carrying out the installation, which is expected to take 13 months.
The company requires hydrogen to meet the increasing demand for the production of Isomalt (Palatinit), an artificial sweetener that is extracted from pure beet sugar by means of a patented process. The plant, which is based on the process of steam reforming from natural gas, will have a capacity of 900 Nm 3 /h hydrogen.
The base principle of Banham's solution on the other hand is gasification. "We're drying the innards which come out of an abattoir and burning it in an oxygen free environment," said Waterson.
Since no oxygen is present, incineration is not involved and the product qualifies as renewable energy. Banham's plant is intended to be capable of handling up to 1200 tons of material per week. The plant's full capacity output will be 5.5 MW.
Banham Power will be linked to slaughterhouse via a sealed pipeline. The company is already very concerned about the smells created by its business and its power project, and has spent £1.5 million on a program of odour control.
The Banham project is backed by the CRed carbon reduction campaign, the National Farmers Union, the poultry industry and Environment Agency.
Banham Poultry, based in Norfolk, employs around 750 people and its fully integrated business covers farming, processing and distribution of chickens. Birds are processed at a rate of up to 600,000 per week.