Waste to energy is important - and here's why | ReGenWaste.com
What is Waste-to-Energy?
Unsurprisingly, WtE is the process of creating energy from waste products, and while the title is simple the process is much more complex. Waste to Energy directly combats the 27 million tonnes of waste sent to landfill every year.
Firstly, waste incineration is much older than you may think - the techniques may have evolved but the practice is almost 150 years old. The first waste incinerator or ‘destructor’ as it was known, was designed and built in Nottingham England in 1874. Unlike early examples, modern waste incineration aims to produce electricity and or heat through waste treatment.
Today waste to energy plants are opening around the world, as governments look to answer the problems presented by rising waste and fossil fuels.
Simply put, in a waste to energy plant, rubbish is the fuel. While traditional power plants depend on oil, gas and coal, waste plants substitute fossil fuel inputs with discarded goods. For a second, consider your waste. Instead of imagining rejected milk cartons, chocolate wrappers and bio waste, look at it is as one whole product. This specific mix of household materials are ideal for creating Refuse Derived Fuels.
ReGen Waste produces RDF, after separating recyclables from the rest of the waste using high tech machinery. In creating this fuel, waste is repurposed both through recycling and RDF, dramatically reducing the volume of waste to landfill. Once the waste fuel has been wrapped at ReGen it is shipped in large volumes to plants across Europe.
How does WtE work?
After these products have been combined and delivered, the most common method of WtE is combustion. This involves heating the new fuel to produce multiple types of ash, heat and electricity. The measured approach to burning the fuel allows for it to be thoroughly disposed of without polluting the environment. Even at this point more of the product can be recycled, in the form of metal. Bottom Ash recycling uses magnets to separate any aluminium, irons and steels that are still present.
At the top end of the combustion funnel, the RDF is sending out vast amounts of heat. The heat produces steam, which can then power steam-turbine generators. At this point, the RDF is able to power and heat homes, acting in place of fossil fuels and gases. Using RDF, WtE plants can offer benefits in the form of heating and desalination in their localities.
What next for Waste to Energy?
Despite a long history of incineration, waste to energy is still in its infancy. The results so far though are positive, the practice is reducing waste to landfill and each time RDF is used, fossil fuels aren’t. China and India have integrated WtE into their recent economic growth strategies. These countries have utilised WtE and used the energy on local levels for low power projects and domestic use.
It’s clear that WtE is still developing, but many see it as a long-term solution to the use of high pollution fuels. Follow ReGen’s progress in Waste to Energy here, and check our blog throughout the year for more info.