Accessibility statement

Reducing toxicity of waste streams

The UK currently disposes of pharmaceutically and chemically contaminated wastes in large-scale, high temperature incinerators. PyroPure required expertise to establish, through laboratory trials, whether the PyroPure® system was able to sufficiently break down pharmaceutical substances and to identify a business case for PyroPure® treating other chemically-contaminated wastes such as pesticides, rodenticides and biocides.

PyroPure Ltd is a specialist waste technology company based in Bordon, Hampshire. PyroPure® is a technology that destroys non-recyclable waste on site leaving only metal and glass for recycling.

The Department of Environment and the Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry at the University of York were engaged in a 6 month Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the company during which seventeen of the most thermally-stable pharmaceuticals were tested for level of breakdown.



Pyropure Ltd

Trials revealed that PyroPure® technology destroys over 99% of 10 of the pharmaceuticals and an average of 94% of the remaining seven.

Successful completion of this trial and the significant evidence gathering process required by regulators opens up major markets valued at over £30million for the PyroPure® product. Key markets in the UK include:

  1. Sharps waste from healthcare facilities
  2. Pharmaceutically contaminated waste from manufacturers
  3. Pesticide contaminated waste from pest control companies.

Peter Selkirk, CEO Pyropure Ltd said:

We found the KTP hugely beneficial to our business and would highly recommend this to any organisation considering its merits. By working in partnership, complex problems can very quickly be resolved through utilisation of skills in both organisations in a way that cannot be done by using external consultants.

The knowledge transfer is also invaluable, by enabling both the Associate and Pyropure staff to learn on-the-job we feel that the capabilities have been embedded into our organisation which will benefit us for a long time to come. Working with a team of scientists has also enabled us to better understand where PyroPure® technology’s strengths lie and where further refinements can be made before we take the system to a commercial phase.

KTP Associate

The Associate – Dr Tom Bean

The KTP has helped me develop significant project and time management skills and experience of working in an innovative company with a team of highly qualified engineers, regulatory experts and business people and the communication and relationship management skills required to interact with these groups. I also now have experience of the application of an academic study to help a company achieve commercial success.

From a technical perspective, I have gained significant commercial knowledge of the waste management sector through market research and an understanding of the regulatory landscape that governs the waste treatment sector and the barriers to innovation faced when trying to apply a ‘one size fits all’ regulatory solution. I also now have a greater technical understanding of pyrolysis and gasification processes and its role in waste treatment and a deepening of analytical chemistry skills including LC-MS/MS, FT-ICR-MS and use of risk assessment models to evaluate efficacy.

I was a finalist in the Environmental Protection UK and Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management ‘student’ and ‘newly qualified scientist’ competitions. I presented the results of the project at the UK finals in Bristol (September) and Liverpool (November 2014).


Academic Lead – Professor Alistair Boxall

York is a world leader in understanding the impacts of pharmaceuticals on the natural environment. One of the exciting things about this project is that it has demonstrated that the PyroPure® system provides a practical and cost-effective solution for reducing the emissions of pharmaceuticals to rivers and soils. The positive findings of our project mean that in the very near future, PyroPure® machines could be installed in hospitals, pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturing sites across the globe. This will provide big benefits to environmental quality.

It is great that York will have played a key role in realising the potential of the innovative technology for treating pharmaceutical wastes while protecting the health of the natural environment. We are already discussing a series of follow on initiatives with PyroPure Ltd that will lead to a longer term research programme on the treatment of chemical wastes, the incorporation of the project as a case study in undergraduate teaching and student placements.

KTP Team Contact details:

Dr Rukmal Abeysekera
Knowledge Transfer Manager
Research, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange 
Ron Cooke Hub
Tel: +44 (0) 1904 32 1124