Waste to energy

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), municipal sewage and agricultural wastes are renewable carbon resources which can be economically used to produce energy. The organic material can often be available at low or negative cost. The cost as a feedstock often depends on the level of pretreatment that has been undertaken. For example MSW contains a variety of recoverable material resources such as metals, plastics, and glass which can be recovered and recycled. The remaining organic materialis carbon rich and can be used in a number of ways to produce renewable energy, fuels, or chemicals.

The generation and disposal of MSW varies widely around the world - notably among different income groups. The U.S. landfills about half of its MSW, with the balance recycled, composted, or incinerated for WTE (combustion to generate electricity and heat). Some countries, particularly in Europe, do little or no landfilling of raw MSW net of recycling, composting, and WTE. In New Zealand and Australia landfilling is still the norm.

Waste water treatment facilities are already established in all communities to take sewage. These can be adapted to also take trade wastes. This provides economies of scale which can reduce the cost of processing sewage.

Agricultural wastes that have concentrated collection of the organic matter can be used through anaerobic digesters to produce biogas for heat or generation of electricity. The resulting digestate is a high value fertilizer.

Biogas produced from any of these organic sources can also be used to produce heat, generate electricity or be used as a vehicle fuel.


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