Recycled Waste Can Be Turned into Renewable Energy
When most people consider renewable energy, they think mostly along the lines of solar, wind and geothermal energy. However, there is another very important source of potential renewable energy that is produced daily, around the globe – garbage. The consumption habits of the modern consumer lifestyle are causing a huge worldwide waste problem. Having overfilled local landfill capacities, many post-industrial nations are now exporting their refuse to developing nations. This is having a devastating impact on ecosystems and cultures throughout the world. Some alternative energy companies are developing new ways to recycle waste by generating electricity from landfill waste.
How is this Possible?
The first important thing to make note of is that of all the potential forms of renewable energy, this is the form that remains least researched. A great many of the materials that are disposed of and thrown into dumps by humans produce heat. In fact, they produce a great deal of heat. Until recently that heat has been considered waste. However, researchers have recently begun to look to garbage for energy. There are several types of technologies being developed to make this possible. Thermal technology, direct combustion, pyrolysis, conventional gasification, and plasma arc gasification are but a few. A research team at the University of Arizona, headed by Associate Professor of Physics, Charles Staffor, has developed a system of power cells that can be charged by the heat generated from these materials while at the same time generating power from the motion created by the gases let off by the various waste items that produce kinetic gases. This would be a combination of thermal technology and conventional gasification. Professor Staffor is confident that with further research and testing, his power cells could make renewable energies like wind and solar power near obsolete. He even believes that his power production model could relieve the world of its garbage problem entirely.
What Could Power by Recycled Waste Mean for Humanity?
It is important to note that waste production is, by far, one of the least important items on the media’s coverage listings and very low on government research funding lists. This is despite the fact it is one of the environments most serious problems. As mentioned, the post-industrial world has a habit of dumping its waste on the developing world like it’s cool. However, there are some scientists like Charles Staffor and others, who believe that the future of human power production could rely on humanity’s own garbage. Imagine entire homes rigged to produce electricity with every piece of garbage thrown away. Some system designs have even suggested that power could be produced every time one flushes the toilet to the point that one’s home could be powered entirely by the waste from their normal everyday consumption. Banana peels, yesterday’s sandwich rapper, last night’s leftovers, and much more could be converted into the energy needed to power an entire civilization.
What is the Power Potential of Garbage?
There are some waste disposal companies around the world who have wisely begun a process that could possibly revolutionize energy production. Upon reception of waste, they are separating materials known to produce a number of highly kinetic, mainly gases, materials. It was estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency, that one company in the United States, alone – that owns 130 disposal sites – produced 550 megawatts of electrical energy. This was estimated to have powered 440,000 homes and did the same work as 2.2 million tons of coal. Instead of polluting the Earth, humanity’s waste could sustain it into the future. There are companies in countries like India who are attempting to tackle this issue as well, to the effect of power produced for thousands of local homes immediately surrounding the plant that is producing the power. This proactive step could help lead to a revolution in energy production were it to receive the appropriate attention and funding.