Thermal Waste-to-Energy treats residual waste, waste that cannot be reused or recycled in an environmentally or economically beneficial way.
The essential services our industry provides to society include: guaranteeing secure treatment of municipal as well as similar commercial and industrial waste, decontaminating recycling streams by acting as a sink for pollutants, generating local and renewable energy, recovering metals and minerals from the bottom ash of Waste-to-Energy plants, supporting quality reuse, remanufacturing and recycling, and reducing society's dependence on landfills.
The role of Waste-to-Energy is to address the residual fraction of waste which is waste of poor quality, waste that is rejected by the recycling facilities, and polluted waste. This prevents the recycling cycle from the risk to be contaminated with polluted products and diverts the non-recyclable waste from landfills, dumpsites and open fires.
Waste-to-Energy plants supply homes, public facilities and businesses with electricity, heating and cooling generated from waste, providing local energy to energy consumers.
The technological processes are such that Waste-to-Energy plants are increasingly able to recover great amounts of materials from the bottom ashes, including minerals and other precious metals which are of great value for the industry.
The diversion of residual waste from landfills has the potential to dramatically reduce the emissions of methane (CH4), a very harmful GHG. Indeed, in the case of landfilling, decomposed waste generates CH4 which, over a 20-year period, is 86 times more potent than CO2.
The improvement of energy and materials recovery from the treatment of residual waste prevents the extraction of virgin fuels and the employment of primary raw materials and their related GHG emissions.
Industrial CO2 capture, storage and utilization can not only substantially reduce the intrinsic GHG emissions of Waste-to-Energy plants, but also abate GHG emissions from other sectors by making the most of this CO2 by using it as a raw material to manufacture new products.
Waste-to-Energy solutions are increasingly becoming an attractive option to solve not only the pressing waste disposal problems but several economic, social, and environmental challenges simultaneously.
There are three key processes being used and/or studied in the field of Thermal Waste-to-Energy power generation: (1) Combustion, (2) Gasification?, (3) Pyrolysis.
The key difference in these processes is the amount of air (oxygen) used in the thermo-chemical conversion process. In incineration a stoichiometric mixture (or above this ratio) is used to ensure that there is enough oxygen present to allow for complete combustion. Gasification takes place in oxygen-deprived environment with lower than stoichiometric ratio. In pyrolysis, no (or very little) oxygen is present in the process.