Amateur inventor, 48, creates a £3,500 ‘washing machine’ incinerator that turns rubbish into fuel to provide hot water for your home

  • Nik Spencer, 48, from Worcestershire built the recycling machine on his own
  • The Home Energy Resource Unit (Heru) turns rubbish into energy in eight hours
  • Roughly the size of a washing machine, the Heru recycles plastic and food waste
  • The machine could save consumers money and energy and free up landfill sites
  • Prototypes are currently being trialled in a home and a cafe in Worcestershire
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An amateur inventor has created a £3,500 ($4,700) ‘washing machine’ incinerator that turns rubbish into enough fuel to provide hot water for your home.

Nik Spencer, 48, from Worcestershire says his recycling machine turns plastic, food waste and even dirty nappies into hot water in just eight hours.

The washing-machine-sized invention burns waste overnight to create a charcoal-like substance that is then used to heat a household boiler.

The charred remains left in The Home Energy Resources Unit, or Heru, can then be safely flushed away.

Father-of-two Mr Spencer believes his invention – which cost him £12,000 ($16,000) to build – could become a common feature in people’s kitchens in future.

Prototypes are currently being trialled in a home, a cafe and another business in Worcestershire.

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Nik Spencer, 48, (pictured) from Worcestershire created his device which slowly burns waste overnight to create a charcoal-like substance


A small machine can turn household waste into hot water. The Home Energy Resources Unit, or Heru (pictured), can recycle anything from plastic cups and milk cartons to food waste and dirty nappies 

Mr Spencer, of Evesham, Worcestershire, came up with the idea while running a recycling plant which sent out a fleet of lorries to collect renewable materials.

He calculated that it would be possible to streamline the process if people could incinerate their waste at home.

He said: ‘I can see a time in the future where waste collection is completely eradicated and the only materials being recycled are glass and metal.

‘It is completely inefficient to collect recycling from a home to be taken to a site to be incinerated to generate heat to be used to fuel someone’s home.

‘What I wanted to do was to effectively cut out the middle man and build something that could do the job of using these materials to generate heat on a smaller scale.’

The Heru works by filling up the machine’s main chamber with rubbish and food waste. 

HOW DOES THE ‘HOME ENERGY RESOURCES UNIT’ WORK?

Amateur inventor Nik Spencer, 48, has created a ‘washing machine’ incinerator that turns rubbish into fuel.


Amateur inventor Nik Spencer, 48, has created a ‘washing machine’ incinerator that turns rubbish into fuel 

The machine, dubbed the ‘Home Energy Resources Unit’ or ‘Heru’ works by filling up the machine’s main chamber with rubbish and food waste.

Plastic coffee cups and bottles, food trays, nappies and even grass cuttings are placed inside the cylinder which is the size of a washing machine drum.

The chamber is heated to 100°C (212°F) which dries the waste and creates vast amounts of steam.

This steam passes then transfers some heat to the water supply.

After the initial burst of heat, the temperature in the main chamber of the machine is then ramped up to 300°C (572°F).

This then triggers a process called pyrolysis, which turns the rubbish into a charcoal-like substance.

At this stage of the cycle oxygen is pumped back inside the chamber and the pyrolised waste is then burned. 

The energy this process produces is then used to heat water in a boiler.

One eight-hour cycle can produce enough energy to heat a tankful of hot water as well as burning rubbish that would otherwise end up in landfill.


One eight-hour cycle from the Heru can produce enough energy to heat a tankful of hot water. It also burns rubbish which would otherwise be sent to landfill


Mr Spencer believes a full load of 2.5kg (5.5 lbs) rubbish produces 44 per cent of a household’s hot water. There are currently Herus being trialled in a home, a cafe and another business in Worcestershire

Plastic coffee cups and bottles, food trays, nappies and even grass cuttings are placed inside the cylinder which is the size of a washing machine drum.

The chamber is heated to 100°C (212°F) which dries the waste and creates vast amounts of steam.

This steam passes then transfers some heat to the water supply.

After the initial burst of heat, the temperature in the main chamber of the machine is then ramped up to 300°C (572°F).

This then triggers a process called pyrolysis, which turns the rubbish into a charcoal-like substance.


The Heru works by filling up the machine’s main chamber with rubbish and food waste. Plastic coffee cups and bottles, food trays, nappies and even grass cuttings are placed inside the cylinder which is the size of a washing machine drum


The only things that cannot be placed in the Heru are glass and metal, these items will still need specialist treatment at a recycling plant 

At this stage of the cycle oxygen is pumped back inside the chamber and the pyrolised waste is then burned. 

The energy this process produces is then used to heat water in a boiler.

One eight-hour cycle can produce enough energy to heat a tankful of hot water as well as burning rubbish that would otherwise end up in landfill. 

After a full cycle, the only thing left of the original rubbish is a small pile of ash which goes down the drain. 

Mr Spencer said: ‘The ash which is left at the end of the cycle can be safely washed into the sewers.


After a full cycle, the only thing left of the original rubbish is a small pile of ash which goes down the drain. 


Mr Spencer of Evesham, Worcestershire, came up with the idea while running a recycling plant which sent out a fleet of lorries to collect renewable materials. He calculated that it would be possible to streamline the entire process process if people could incinerate their own waste

WHAT IS PYROLYSIS?

Pyrolysis is the scientific name given to a chemical process that breaks down certain materials through the application of heat. 

Pyrolysis transforms organic materials into their gaseous components, a solid residue of carbon and ash, and a liquid called pyrolytic oil (or bio-oil).

Carbon-based products, such as plastics and organic matter, are decomposed at high temperatures.

The process also occurs in the presence of little of no oxygen, which differentiates it from combustion.

This lack of oxygen ensures that the matter doesn’t burn or catch fire.

It creates a form of charcoal called biochar. 

Pyrolysis is often combined with other processes which to make use of the waste. 

‘While looking into the ash we discovered it contained lye which has a very high alkaline content and is excellent for cleaning sewers and breaking down fatbergs.

‘Lye was used by the Victorians to wash out the sewers so even the material which is left has a beneficial effect.’

Mr Spencer believes a full load of 2.5kg (5.5 lbs) rubbish produces 44 per cent of a household’s hot water.

There are currently Herus being trialled in a home, a cafe and another business in Worcestershire.

If successful, the firm hopes to roll out production as early as 2020 with an estimated price tag of £3,500 ($4,725).


The dad-of-two believes his invention – which cost him £12,000 ($16,000) to build – could become a common feature in people’s kitchens in the future


The Heru machine uses a process called Pyrolysis to turn solid waste into an ash, gases and thermal energy. By harnessing the products of this reaction Mr Spencer believes he could have found a way to drastically improve recycling and reduce utility bills

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