Waste-to-energy is a fairly new waste management – energy generation concept that is rapidly growing in popularity. It involves creating energy from the waste products that we discard on a daily basis… and it could be the way forward for us all. Back in 2008, the UK generated around 290 million tonnes of waste. While 43.9% of household waste in the UK was recycled by 2012, there is still a lot more than could be done.
Indeed, the area of waste-to-energy (sometimes shorted to WtE) is one that deserves more attention.
What is Waste-to-Energy?
Waste-to-energy describes the process of creating energy from waste products and typically uses combustion to generate either heat, steam or electricity.
This energy can then be put to good use elsewhere.
In some cases, depending on the type of waste products available, an alternative type of fuel can be created from the waste-to-energy process.
Examples of the fuels that can be created include methane or ethanol.
What Type of Waste is Suitable for Conversion to Energy?
Ideally we should all seek to prevent excess waste from being generated in the first place.
After this, the task is to either reuse or recycle the waste products.
As we have seen above, the good news is that nearly 44% of waste from households across the UK is now recycled to be used again.
However there are materials that cannot be recycled or reused in any way.
When this is the case, the waste-to-energy concept comes into its own.
The challenge is to generate as much energy as possible from the waste products that would end up in landfill sites across the country.
How does the Waste-to-Energy Process Work?
One example would involve household waste being incinerated to produce energy in the form of heat.
The combustion process is quite often able to sustain itself, so no energy is required to start it.
Organic materials can generate their own heat (think of a compost bin and the heat generated from the materials added to it).
The heat created in the waste-to-energy process is used to boil water and so create steam, and this in turn works a turbine that can produce electricity for use elsewhere.
When this energy from waste process is done on a large scale, the local electricity grid receives the electricity that has been generated from what used to simply be rubbish.
Creating Energy from Waste Products
We are all aware of the need to recycle and reuse as much as we can.
However, it is reassuring to know there are eco-friendly methods being developed that will allow us to make use of waste that would otherwise be just that – waste.
When waste-to-energy is used on a large scale, it is a method capable of generating plenty of energy we would otherwise not have access to.
In the future, everyone in the UK could be far more reliant on creating energy from waste products – especially when a lack of fossil fuels drives us to find other more practical means of creating the energy we need.
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