By: Rubina Obaid
Countries nowadays seek efficient waste disposal solution and developing waste to energy plants to provide the best possible solution for disposing of waste in the most resourceful manner. Bioenergy is the form of energy which is derived from any fuel which is basically originated through biomass.
Various studies have demonstrated that it is possible to obtain a wide variety of bioenergy from biomass residues and waste materials. Many countries are now moving towards alternative energy sources which are environment friendly to significantly mitigate carbon emissions. Bioenergy is the form of energy which is derived from any fuel which is basically originated through biomass. In industrialized countries there are a wide range of feedstocks, are available for the production of biofuel which includes agricultural and forestry residues, building and industrial waste, and municipal solid waste (MSW). In the United States, presently there are 71 waste to energy (WTE) plants. By burning waste at high-temperature energy is generated and electricity is produced. Countries nowadays seek efficient waste disposal solution and developing waste to energy plants to provide the best possible solution for disposing of waste in the most resourceful manner.
The electricity which is obtained through WTE plants can fulfill the demands of 2 million homes. It has been estimated that between 2018 and 2026 waste to the energy industry will experience a sharp surge that is around 70% of the growth rate in the global market. However, environmental advocates are having serious health concerns regarding air pollution caused by these waste to energy plants. Particulate emission of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide may cause serious health problems for the population. Hence, the Baltimore city council passed a legislation to monitor the WTE and its potential impacts on the environment. This will help the growth of waste to energy market alongside putting forth efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These policies will help WTE plants to have less negative impacts on the environment in the coming years.
The evolving technological advancement of these plants is focusing on more efficient processes to obtain energy while curtailing carbon emission associated with the burning of waste. The potential expansion of waste to energy power plants greatly depends upon various external factors such as waste management around the globe, recycling alternatives, cheap natural gas, low electricity prices in the United States, and most of all lack of sufficient policies regarding landfills. Nevertheless, there is a great potential for the countries which are looking forward to switching towards renewable energy sources and reducing their dependence upon fossil fuels. Using biomass residues and waste material as a primary source of biofuels is a promising application for generating a wide range of bioenergy owing to high potential to produce large amounts of lipids that best suits for the production of biodiesel as well.
Waste to bioenergy production is still not as cost-competitive as compared to fossil fuels with respect to the current technological advancement. Higher technological costs for incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis processes include relatively high operational costs. Therefore, researchers are focusing on process optimization to increase the production yield and enhancing overall efficiency. Substantial measures have been taken to prevent the emission of harmful compounds while including adequate control of mixing and temperature of air/fuel and the avoidance of quench zone in the furnace for the prevention of harmful emission. Ongoing research studies have been devoted to overcoming the inadequacies in the current technologies, which will bring a significant boom to the sector.