Waste to energy is a process in which non-recyclable waste materials are converted into usable heat, electricity, or fuel much of which is sold for use in local homes and businesses. Variety of processes, including combustion, gasification, pyrolization, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas (LFG) recovery takes place. Converting non-recyclable waste materials into electricity produces renewable source of energy and reduces carbon emissions by reducing the need for energy from fossil and also methane generation from landfills.
How waste to energy works
First non recyclable waste is brought and trucks head to the waste-to-energy plants. There they are weighed, and then enter an enclosed tipping area where waste is unloaded into a concrete storage pit.
Cranes move and mix the waste and remove bulky process able items that are too large for the furnace. (Those are removed for land filling.)
The waste is transferred to a combustion chamber where self-sustaining combustion is maintained at extremely high temperatures. The heat from the combustion process boils water.
The steam from the boiling water is used directly, or more frequently, the steam drives a turbine that generates electricity. Electricity is distributed to the local grid.
Waste to energy & Climate Change
Global warming is the rise in the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere. When greenhouse gases (GHG) such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are released into the earth’s atmosphere, they trap infrared radiation from sunlight. This is stored as heat in the atmosphere and increases earth’s average temperature. Waste to energy facilities avoid the production of methane while producing significantly more electricity from each ton of waste compared to landfills.
Waste to energy plants
Covanta Energy is one of the world’s largest owners and operators of infrastructure for the conversion of waste-to-energy. Covanta’s North American facilities supply electricity for approximately 1 million homes. Covanta supports recycling and supports programs that enable communities to recycle as much as possible. As part of the process, Covanta recover over 400,000 tons of metal annually for recycling that would have otherwise been lost in landfills.
Did you know?
- Waste Management Energy Production Rivals Solar Industry (environmentalleader.com)
- Covanta Tartech Recycles Metals from Ash Monofill (environmentalleader.com)