Waste to Energy Technologies and Pathways

Waste to energy is a proven and environmentally sound technology that provides alternative energy sources. Every year tons and tons of waste are generated all over the world. Despite our best efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, waste keeps arising.

Globally the estimated quantity of just the solid wastes generation is 1.2 kg per person per day (1.3 billion tonnes per year). In the U.S. alone, 254 million tons (2013) of waste were generated from various sources. The waste management market valued $863.8 billion in 2014 will increase to $1,442.0 billion by the year 2019.

Waste to EnergyIn a broad sense wastes can be classified into solid wastes, liquid wastes and special wastes. Categorization of waste with an almost exhaustive list of examples has been summarized here.

Waste to energy technology

A number of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels can be generated from these wastes through diverse technologies. They can be used for various applications in power, transport and heating.
Solid fuel refers to various types of solid material that are used as fuel to produce energy usually by the process of combustion or gasification.

Solid fuels include briquettes, charcoal, pellets and solid recovered fuel (SRF). The most important liquid fuels (biofuels} include ethanol, biodiesel, bio oil, synfuels and other hydrocarbon biofuels. Gaseous fuel apart from being used for power is also increasingly being used for transport and heating. Some of the gaseous fuels include biogas / methane, syngas/producer gas etc.

In the following articles, we will analyze the technology options for reusing waste for energy recovery and also find out the business opportunities that lie along the value chain. There are a number of new energy technologies for producing power from waste without direct combustion.

References: Advancing Sustainable Materials Management:

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