As the international community increasingly recognizes the importance of sustainable energy as a vital element of protecting our environment, government and energy industry policy makers alike are turning their eyes to waste-to-energy solutions. Unlike some industry buzzwords and phrases, the meaning of “waste-to-energy” is obvious – technologies that convert unwanted waste materials into energy in the form of electricity or heat. Some waste-to-energy processes also result in the efficient production of hydrogen, oil and other fuels. Here are some of the innovative processes businesses are utilizing to generate sustainable energy from waste.
- Gasification: This is one of the more popular thermal waste-to-energy technologies, converting low-value organic or fossil-fuel based materials into hydrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Gasification can be used to generate electricity, and to produce fuels and fertilizers that reduce dependence upon oil imports and natural gas.
- Thermal depolymerization: Depolymerization uses pressure and heat to reduce complex organic materials – including biomass and plastics – to light crude oil in a method that mimics the processes involved in the natural production of fossil fuels. The process can also safely remove any heavy metals in the waste material by converting them into stable oxides.
- Pyrolysis: This is an oxygen-free process that is particularly useful in processing drained sludges, including sewage. Like gasification and depolymerization, this is a thermal process. It can process biomass to produce heat, steam and electricity as well as biochar – which can be used as a fertilizer and soil amender – and synthetic gas (syngas).
- Fermentation: A non-thermal waste-to-energy method, fermentation involves breaking down organic matter using processes including hydrolysis and distillation to produce ethanol from biomass. Ethanol can be blended with gasoline for use as fuel.
- Anaerobic digestion: This is a non-thermal process of producing sustainable energy in which microorganisms break down organic matter in airtight containers in the absence of oxygen. The products of anaerobic digestion have a number of applications, including power generation, vehicle fuel and cooking gas.
At Clean Energy Enterprises, we understand the challenges of sustainable energy production in the 21st century, but also how these challenges can be surmounted by smart application of the technologies available. Our own BLUE Tower Clean Energy system is based on a proven advanced waste-to-energy gasification technology to convert biomass and other forms of organic waste into renewable hydrogen for transportation, with virtually zero emissions. Contact us for more information about Clean Energy Enterprises or to propose a waste to energy technology.