There’s an old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
When it comes to waste to energy technology, one company’s trash is another company’s treasure.
Waste to energy embraces many of the same principles as traditional recycling. The goal is to keep out what normally would go into landfills and use those materials differently.
In manufacturing, the waste to energy process turns chemical energy into thermal energy by turning solid waste into gas. For companies that generate hazardous waste, waste to energy keeps dangerous waste out of landfills while reducing the use of valuable resources.
Here is how waste to energy works and how the state-of-the-art technology used during this sustainable process can benefit your company.
How Waste To Energy Works
The incineration of waste is the most frequently used waste to energy process. During this process, chemical energy transforms into thermal energy, and organics collected from waste are thermally destroyed at extremely high temperatures.
A concern companies sometimes have over using waste to energy is the environmental impact of this process. With fire comes smoke, and the incineration process is often thought to include big plumes of black smoke.
Rest assured that federal regulations work to ensure toxic smoke is not emitted during the waste to energy process. In fact, federal regulations impose strict emissions standards at waste to energy plants that require stack output to meet a nearly 100% purity standard. Rather than smoke, waste to energy emits clean water vapor.
In addition to incineration, there are several other types of waste to energy systems. These are typically designed with more specific purposes in mind.
For example, depolymerization breaks down waste materials into crude oil products using thermal decomposition.
Gasification, on the other hand, converts carbonaceous substances into carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and small amounts of hydrogen. The goal is to use the synthesis gas that is created to produce electrical and heat sources.
Pyrolysis also generates electricity and heat by subjecting organic or agricultural waste to elevated temperatures to create an oil that is a renewable industrial fuel.
More information about the different types of waste to energy processes can be found in our article, How Does Waste To Energy Work?
Waste To Energy’s Role In The Circular Economy
Embracing the principles of the circular economy is gaining steam among many companies across the globe.
The circular economy is designed to be regenerative. It designs waste and pollution out of a system while keeping products and materials in use.
While many companies operate under a take-make-dispose approach, this linear economy business model hurts economic growth because companies continually face unpredictable raw material prices and increased costs due to a strain on resources.
A circular economy, on the other hand, embraces a make-use-return approach, which keeps materials and products in use indefinitely. This eases the burden on natural resources.
So, how does waste to energy play a role in the circular economy? At Temarry Recycling, for example, the closed loop recycling process takes industrial solvents and recycles them with useful waste byproduct. Here’s how:
Waste To Energy Begins The Process
BTU organic solids are converted to 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 is quenched and falls 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.
Solvent Distillation Continues The Process
Using the steam from the waste to energy process as energy to power the recovery stills, spent solvents are re-manufactured. This allows the solvents to be sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
Water Treatment Finishes The Cycle
The water treatment process extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes. In turn, treated water is used on-site for industrial needs, including the waste to energy equipment and a cooling tower.
Benefits Waste To Energy Provides
While waste to energy reduces the use of valuable resources and is part of a process to keep materials in use indefinitely, incorporating this process into your waste management procedures can provide many benefits for your company as well.
In California, companies can take advantage of economic incentives through grant, payment and loan programs. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) offers several funding opportunities to assist companies with improving the sustainability of their waste stream management.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Companies that partner with Temarry Recycling for the recycling of their waste can significantly reduce the amount of truck loads that are transported off site for secondary recycling at a cement kiln.
- For each 60 cubic yard box thermally treated on site at Temarry, one cubic yard of ash is generated.
- For each 100 gallons of typical solvents distilled, 30 gallons of still bottoms are generated to blend with ash.
The fewer truck loads, the fewer fossil fuel resources that are used for transportation.
Enhancing any part of a company’s sustainability can have a domino effect on other areas of your operation. For example, applying sustainable concepts to a business can:
- Reduce your costs through more efficient operations
- Enhance the conservation of resources and reduce your reliance on natural resources
- Improve your image based on research that shows consumers buy from sustainable companies
A Push Toward Renewable Energy
As many manufacturing companies in the United States continue to look for ways to increase their sustainability while decreasing their reliance on natural resources, waste to energy offers an opportunity to keep materials at their highest value.
Ultimately, this can help improve a company’s bottom line and put it at the forefront of a movement to harness untapped sources of energy.