Waste to Energy plants are gaining steam, literally, with more than 2,450 plants active worldwide.
With the advancement of different treatment technologies, waste to energy plants have reached an annual disposal capacity of around 360 million tons of waste, significantly reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and instead turning it into valuable energy.
With renewed focus on recycling, waste to energy is at the forefront of using cutting-edge technology to turn trash into treasure, especially for manufacturers that produce hazardous waste. It’s a new way of looking at recycling by taking materials that otherwise would be discarded into the earth and keeping the materials at their highest values.
But how does a waste to energy plant work? It depends. Below we’ll explore the different types of technology that many manufacturing facilities are taking advantage of today to enhance their sustainability plans and ensure no waste ends up in landfills.
Waste To Energy Types
The incineration of waste is the most frequently used waste to energy process. During incineration, chemical energy transforms into thermal energy. Organics collected from waste are thermally destroyed at extremely high temperatures.
With fire comes smoke, which can influence the environmental impact of this process. However, strict federal regulations are enforced to ensure toxic smoke is not emitted from a WTE plant. In fact, these regulations impose strict emissions standards that state the stack output must meet a nearly 100% purity standard. In other words, instead of smoke, stacks emit clean water vapor.
Although incineration plants are one of the most common methods of turning waste into energy, some waste to energy plants utilize other available technologies to produce energy.
Depolymerization, for example, breaks down waste materials into crude oil products. This process uses thermal decomposition by taking materials and subjecting them to high temperatures and pressure while in the presence of water. Long chain polymers are broken down into shorter chains, mimicking a natural geological process that produces fossil fuels.
Gasification, on the other hand, converts carbonaceous substances into carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. This process uses high temperatures as well, but does so while in the presence of oxygen. The synthesis gas is then used to produce a heat and electricity source.
Pyrolysis subjects organic or agricultural waste to elevated temperatures, but unlike the others, doesn’t use oxygen or halogen. During this process, solid, liquid and gas is produced. Pyrolysis oil also can be used to generate heat and electricity as a renewable industrial fuel. It even can be upgraded into a specialty chemical or used as transportation fuel.
Plasma Arc Gasification doesn’t use combustion, but instead compresses the waste to produce gas that is then ionized using a plasma torch. This process generates electricity while reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.
Waste To Energy And Hazardous Waste
For manufacturing facilities that produce hazardous waste streams, it’s critical to ensure this waste is disposed of legally and responsibly. Not doing so can break cradle to grave requirements, and result in costly fines and other legal ramifications.
At Temarry Recycling, state-of-the-art waste to energy technology keeps hazardous spent solvents and physical products from being dumped down the drain and out of landfills, reduces the reliance on valuable natural resources and keeps materials at their highest value.
Here’s how waste to energy works at Temarry:
- Organic solids with sufficient BTU are converted to energy in the form of steam.
- Waste is fed by a conveyor into the primary stage for thermal destruction at 1500 degrees F.
- All vapors and gases are then directed to secondary thermal treatment at 1500 degrees F.
- Inorganic solids, or ash, from the primary stage are quenched and fall into an ash hopper.
- Heat is then directed to a 200-horsepower steam generator.
- The remaining gases are directed to a modern two-stage venturi scrubber to ensure that only clean water vapor is emitted into the atmosphere.
Temarry Recycling takes the waste to energy process one step further by incorporating it into a closed loop recycling system. The steam generated from the waste to energy process is used as energy to power recovery stills onsite. This solvent distillation process remanufactures spent solvents so they can be sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
A water treatment process then extracts usable water from the industrial hazardous wastes. Treated water is then used on-site for industrial needs, including the waste to energy equipment and a cooling tower.
Waste To Energy Benefits
Waste to energy, when part of a closed loop recycling system, offers many benefits, from the opportunity to safely and legally dispose of your waste to staying at the forefront of sustainable initiatives in industry today.
Hazardous waste generators located in the western United States, in particular, will see several benefits from taking advantage of the waste to energy facilities at Temarry Recycling. These include:
- A reduction in transport distance (and carbon footprint) for the waste stream, since the closest cement kilns that utilize hazardous waste as an alternative fuel are in Kansas, Missouri and South Carolina
- Cost savings with a reduction in transport distance
- Achievement of the highest level of sustainability for your waste stream
Working with Temarry Recycling also reduces your cradle to grave liability, since Temarry is an EPA authorized exporter of hazardous waste. While Temarry operates out of San Diego, we have a TSDF in Tecate, Mexico.
That means your liability for the waste ends at the U.S. border. It’s there that Temarry becomes the Principal Responsible Party in the United States and Recicladora Temarry de Mexico accepts generator liability in Mexico.
A Promising Future
Waste to energy facilities utilize cutting-edge technology to keep waste out of landfills and reduce a company’s carbon footprint, especially facilities that utilize a Closed Loop Recycling system.
Using this resource to responsibly dispose of your waste ensures you meet all local, state and federal regulations, while significantly increasing your corporate sustainability.