The first-ever “incinerator” was used way back in 1874 in Nottingham. Since then, humanity has been able to utilize technological improvement to turn wastes into energy. Right now, five processes are widely used to transform biomass and even plastic into some form of usable power. Here are some things about the waste-to-energy conversion methods used today.
Best processes for converting waste to energy
Pyrolysis is the most widely used method of turning waste into energy. Waste collected in an area is processed in the Pyrolysis reactor, where it is exposed to high temperature in a vacuum. This process produces three by-products: biochar, biofuel, and syngas. All of these by-products can be turned into something useful, hence the reason why Pyrolysis is widely favored by energy companies such as ToMoreGreen (https://www.tomoregreen.com). Pyrolysis uses inexpensive technology and thus, making it one of the most efficient waste-to-energy conversion method right now.
Gasification, as the name suggests, harvests the gasses released in biomass and turns it into energy. Instead of combustion, the process utilizes vacuum differently, turning carbon-based materials into synthetic gas. This synthetic gas or syngas is then processed to create other materials such as fuels, electricity, and even fertilizers.
3. Thermal Depolymerization
Thermal Depolymerization seems like a term from a famous card game. Even though it is quite hard to pronounce, it is one of the most efficient ways to make energy out of plastic. With this method, water, along with the feedstock, will be heated up to create thermal energy. It’s an artificial way to create fossil fuel, which can take a long time to be produced.
4. Anaerobic Digestion (Biodigestion)
In this method, living things are used instead of combustion or another high-temperature method. Feedstock will be stored in a specialized container devoid of air like the other processes on this list. The bacteria will digest all the available biomass in the container. With the absence of air, this biomass digestion will create what is called a bio-gas, which can be used to power up stuff like heat systems. Residues from the process are called the digestate, which we can use as organic fertilizers.
5. Plasma Arc Gasification
Plasma Arc Gasification or the Plasma Pyrolysis uses a plasma torch to create synthetic gas. Once the feedstock is in the plasma gasifier, the system will send a certain voltage to trigger the electrodes inside. This causes a high temperature that can reach up to 3,000 Celcius. The high temperature will create the syngas, which will then be processed through a water scrubber, cyclone separator, and then through the booster before being distributed.
Now that other sources of energy are being exhausted out, it’s not surprising to see the technical advancements that curb out wastes and transform it into energy. The whole process can solve a lot of problems. Although these processes are still a lower scale right now, it can turn out to be a great source of energy.
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