by Jesse Crabtree
Converting household waste into energy is no new feat. Every day, garbage is burned to power steam-turbine generators, and methane gas is recovered from decomposing waste in landfills. But now the Danish energy company DONG is planning the first bio plant that will turn waste into fuel and recyclables without any need for sorting or prior treatment.
This new technology called “REnescience” should increase the amount of waste available for recycling and fuel generation, all while circumventing the costly and time-consuming processes of sorting and chemically treating waste. Unsorted waste is first placed in a large chamber where it is heated and mixed with water. Next the mixture enters the “REnescience bioreactor” where it is treated with enzymes and bacteria that dissolve any organic materials. This organic fluid is then separated from the rest of the solid and sent to a plant where it is converted into a viable biogas. The plant separates the leftover, inorganic solid into recyclable materials (metals and plastics) and non-degradable plastic—which is burned for energy in a standard incineration plant. The benefits of this technology appear to be the ability to extract most of the biomass and recyclable material before sending the remaining trash to be burned, all without a need for recycling by individuals.
REnescience was developed by DONG Energy and has proved successful at a test plant since 2009. The new plant—planned to open in Northwhich, England early 2017—will consume 120,000 tons of waste per year: roughly the waste production of 110,000 UK homes. If successful, DONG hopes to open more REnescience plants across Europe so as to help “handle [Europe’s] waste in a much smarter manner.”
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Montopoli, Brian. “Waste Not: Turning Garbage into Energy.” CBSNews.com. CBS News, 17 July 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.