Live News Feeds
Copy of a sanitized Study
Draft Example Agreement
Throwing Away Energy
Gasification can convert materials normally considered
waste into energy and valuable products. In the U.S.
alone thousands of tons of a potential source of energy
are collected and thrown away each week. Most of the
waste that we discard from our homes and businesses
every day - such as non-recyclable plastics,
construction debris, used tires, household trash, and
sewage - contains energy. Gasification can convert the
energy in all of this waste into electric power,
substitute natural gas, chemicals, transportation fuels,
Gasification is Not Incineration
Gasification is not incineration. Incineration is the
burning of fuels in an oxygen-rich environment, where
the waste material combusts and produces heat and carbon
dioxide, along with a variety of other pollutants.
Gasification is the conversion of feedstock into their
simplest molecules - carbon monoxide, hydrogen and
methane forming a syngas which then can be used for
generating electricity or producing valuable products.
250 Million Tons/Year of Municipal Solid Waste
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
each year Americans generate about 250 million tons of
municipal solid waste (MSW) - about 4.5 pounds per
person per day. This MSW includes a wide variety of
wastes, including kitchen and yard waste, , electronics,
light bulbs, plastics, used tires, and old paint.
Despite significant increases in recycling and energy
recovery, only about one-third of the total MSW is
recovered - leaving the remaining two-thirds (or 135
million tons/year) to be dumped into landfills or
incinerated. These figures do not include the 7.2
million dry tons of biosolids from wastewater treatment,
much of which is also landfilled or incinerated.
Cities and towns spend millions of dollars per year to
collect and dispose of MSW wastes in landfills - using
thousands of acres of land. Many states have banned
incinerators and a number of states, such as New York,
New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California and
Florida are faced with limited landfill space, forcing
them to transport their MSW hundreds of miles for
disposal in other states.
In addition to consuming valuable land, the decomposing
MSW generates methane, a greenhouse gas, and the
leaching wastes may also pose a threat to the
groundwater. However, there is an alternative to putting
this waste in a landfill - it can be converted through
gasification to useful products.
Billions of Tons of Industrial Waste Every Year
American industrial facilities dispose of 7.6 billion
tons of industrial solid waste per year. This waste
includes plastics and resins, chemicals, pulp and
paper. In addition, the debris generated during
construction, renovation and demolition of buildings,
houses, roads and bridges adds another 136 million
tons/year. (source: U.S. EPA)
Much of this industrial waste is also suitable for
gasification. For example, the construction and
demolition waste can be gasified to produce power and
products. The non-recyclable industrial plastic wastes
can also be gasified.
WASTE GASIFICATION PROCESS
From Waste to Energy and Valuable Products
All of this waste contains unused energy. Instead of
discarding that energy source, gasification can convert
it to electric power and other valuable products, such
as chemicals, substitute natural gas, transportation
fuels, and fertilizers. On average, waste-to-energy
plants that use mass-burn incineration can convert one
ton of MSW to about 550 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
With gasification technology, one ton of MSW can be used
to produce up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, a
much more efficient and cleaner way to utilize this
source of energy. Industrial waste also contains a
large source of untapped energy. For example, the energy
content of wood construction and demolition waste is
about 8,000 Btu/lb and about 10,000 Btu/lb for
non-recyclable industrial plastics.
MSW gasification faces a number of challenges. Because
MSW can contain such a wide variety of materials, the
materials may need to be sorted to eliminate those items
that cannot be readily gasified or that would harm the
gasification equipment. In addition, the gasification
system may need to be designed to handle a variety of
different materials because these materials may be
gasified at different rates.
Further, one of the important advantages of
gasification is that the syngas can be cleaned of
contaminants prior to its use, eliminating many of the
types of after-the-fact (post-combustion) emission
control systems required by incineration plants.
Technologies used in waste gasification include
conventional gasification systems, as well as plasma arc
gasification. Whether generated from conventional
gasification or from plasma gasification, the syngas can
be used in reciprocating engines or turbines to generate
electricity or further processed to produce substitute
natural gas, chemicals, fertilizers or transportation
fuels, such as ethanol. Read more about the products of
Gasification Does Not Reduce Recycling Rates
Gasification does not compete with recycling. In fact,
it enhances recycling programs. Materials can and should
be recycled and conservation should be encouraged.
However, many materials, such as metals and glass, must
be removed from the MSW stream before it is fed into the
gasifier. Pre-gasification feedstock processing systems
are added up-front to accomplish the extraction of
metals, glass and inorganic materials, resulting in the
increased recycling and utilization of materials. In
addition, a wide range of plastics cannot be recycled or
cannot be recycled any further, and would otherwise end
up in a landfill. Such plastics are an excellent, high
energy feedstock for gasification.
In addition, not all cities or towns are set up to
collect and process recycled materials. And, as
populations grow, the amount of waste generated grows.
So even as recycling rates increase, the amount of waste
is increasing at a greater rate. All of this waste
represents lost energy and economic value - which
gasification can capture.
Gasifying waste has
a number of significant environmental benefits:
Reduces need for
Reduces risk of
groundwater contamination from landfills
energy from waste that can be used to produce high
Reduces use of
virgin materials needed to produce these high value
transportation costs for waste that no longer needs
to be shipped hundreds of miles for disposal
Reduces use of
thanks to the "Gasification Technologies Council"