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Waste-to-energy (WtE) – Utilizing Underutilized Sources of Renewable Fuel

Waste-to-energy (WtE) also know as energy-from-waste (EfW) is electricity and/or heat that is generated from the primary treatment of waste and processed into a renewable fuel source and is a form of energy recovery and reuse. Commodities such as methane, methanol, ethanol or synthetic fuels are the combustable fuels that are produced from  WtE’s processed through combustion.

What Is The Waste To Energy Concept?

Waste-to-Energy incineration is the sustainable alternative to landfills for waste disposal. Waste-to-Energy is not the incineration used in the past. Modern waste-to-energy plants divert municipal solid waste intended for landfills and using sustainable combustable processes, generate energy that can be used as electricity for homes and businesses or other forms of energy to use in large industries.

Because of the efficient process of eliminating methane from landfills, which NASA scientists have identified as super-emitters of methane (a greenhouse gas that is 84 times more potent as a climate-warming gas than CO₂),  WtE is widely considered as our best hope for reducing and reversing greenhouse gases and our adverse contributions to climate change.

How Does Waste To Energy Work

Although a very scientific method of energy recovery and reuse, Waste-to-Energy(WtE) creates electricity by combusting the landfill destined non-hazardous waste into steam.  The remaining ash contains metal and gases, which are further processed and any recyclable elements such as metals are recovered for recycling, while the gases are collected and cleaned to minimize any detrimental effects to the environment.

Waste To Energy Questions

Waste-to-Energy is a technologically advanced means of waste disposal that is widely recognized for reducing greenhouse gases—particularly methane—by eliminating emissions from landfills. Also see above post.

A visit to a modern waste-to-energy plant shows they are far cleaner than older incinerators and an alternative to landfills, but shouldn’t displace efforts to increase recycling.

Waste to Energy (WTE), is a term that is used to describe various technologies that convert non-recyclable waste into usable forms of energy including heat, fuels and electricity. WTE can occur through a number of processes such as incineration, gasification, pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas recovery

In terms of CO2 emissions, when this method is compared to landfills that do not recover their methane emissions, waste-to-energy saves one ton of CO2 per ton of waste; when compared to landfills that do recover their landfill gases, it saves about half a ton of CO2 per ton of waste.

There are different types of waste-to-energy systems or technologies. The most common type used in the United States is the mass-burn system, where unprocessed MSW is burned in a large incinerator with a boiler and a generator for producing electricity (see illustration below).

  • Decreases quantity of waste.
  • Reduction of Pollution.
  • Production of heat and power.
  • Incinerators have filters for trapping pollutants.
  • Saves on transportation of waste.
  • Provides better control over noise and odor. …
  • Prevent the production of methane gas. …
  • Eliminates harmful germs and chemicals.

Burying garbage also causes both air and water pollution, and simply transporting it to the sites consumes an increasing amount of valuable fossil fuels, which produces more pollution and other problems. Buried in a landfill, the typical plastic trash bag takes 1,000 years to degrade, giving off toxins as it does.

Pollution. Waste-to-energy plants cause less air pollution than coal plants, but more than natural gas plants. … Burning municipal waste does produce significant amounts of dioxin and furan emissions to the atmosphere as compared to the smaller amounts produced by burning coal or natural gas.

Waste prevention, as the preferred option, is followed by reuse, recycling, recovery including energy recovery and as a last option, safe disposal.

It ranks waste management options according to what has the best outcome for the environment. The five stages of the waste hierarchy are Prevention, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery and Disposal. Prevention is the least harmful to the environment and disposal is the last resort with the most impact on the environment.