The path to zero waste.
Nov 20, 2015
Last Sunday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the problem of waste disposal in the United States. We are heartened that this serious issue is receiving a national platform. Waste disposal is a very real problem and it demands immediate, sustainable solutions.
However, to find these solutions we need to stop talking about the lesser of two evils and start talking about real technological advancements.
That’s advancements – plural. Discussing emerging waste systems does not take away from the utility of recycling systems already in play. However, despite the continued sophistication of recycling methods there is still a significant portion of contaminated waste destined for landfills. This fraction of non-recyclable waste should be the crux of the debate about landfills.
Technology advancements present added opportunity to refine and optimize the resources we consume so these materials find a higher and better use than being buried in the ground.
The waste conversion industry recognizes this and emerging technologies are coming to market that address these shortfalls.
Gasification, in particular, addresses this niche reportedly converting waste to electricity with up to 45% efficiency – double the average efficiency of an incinerator.
Oxygen-injected gasifiers can operate at temperatures reaching 4,000 °F, disassociating molecules in waste materials completely to form high-value energy products such as electricity, renewable diesel, hydrogen, and even jet fuels.
The oxygen injection and resultant high temperatures prevent the formation and emission of dioxins. Additionally, the small fraction of remaining materials is vitrified into an inert and salable stone used in construction aggregate. This is in stark contrast to the landfilled ash and pollutants produced by incineration.
Waste gasification offsets fossil fuel, significantly reduces climate-warming pollutants, creates significant added value in revenue opportunities, and reconciles the lifecycle of waste, for good.
One such emerging gasifier is Sierra Energy’s FastOx gasifier. FastOx gasification was developed to combine the benefits of simple, streamlined steel-making vessels with oxygen-injected efficiencies. As a result, FastOx gasifiers can handle nearly any type of waste stream and enables a cost-effective and efficient implementation of waste conversion on any scale.
Integrating emerging technologies such as gasification at existing landfills is an actual, sustainable step towards zero waste communities. Let’s stop talking about systems that for decades have missed the mark environmentally and focus on real solutions made possible by recent technological advancements.