Study Reaffirms Waste’s Role as a US Fuel Source

Study Reaffirms Waste’s Role as a US Fuel Source

American Chemistry Council and University of Texas study concludes waste can be used in energy-intensive commercial and industrial applications.

July 23, 2012
Waste Today Staff

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have released a study that they say reaffirms the value of everyday waste as a clean, abundant, affordable source of domestic energy.

WebberThe study, completed by Michael Webber, Ph.D, and his team of university researchers, demonstrated that fuel engineered from nonrecycled plastics and other materials could successfully power a Texas cement kiln. The research showed that fuel engineered from waste could serve as valuable fuel for not only cement kilns but potentially for other energy-intensive commercial and industrial operations.

Webber’s research reaffirms the benefits of energy from waste. In the case of the fuel developed and used in the study, the energy content surpassed that of some forms of coal. Webber’s team also found that if 5 percent of unusable materials from recycling facilities were diverted from landfills to energy recovery, it would generate enough energy to power about 700,000 homes each year.

“In this case, one person’s trash truly is another person’s treasure. Americans send tons of waste to landfills each and every day, meaning that one of America’s most abundant and affordable sources of energy ends up buried in landfills,” says Cal Dooley, president and CEO of ACC. “It’s time we got smart and made energy recovery a central part of America’s energy strategy.”

Webber says, “The findings from our study demonstrate how engineered fuels can make a meaningful contribution to our nation’s strategy, while reducing carbon and sulfur emissions compared to some forms of energy. The combination of environmental benefits, emerging science and economic opportunity make recovering energy from waste an opportunity that we can’t afford to ignore.”

According to the ACC, this most recent study represents one of many promising methods being developed to harness the energy from waste. The field of energy recovery is one of the major parts of ACC’s “From Chemistry to Energy” campaign.

ACC says it advocates for a comprehensive national energy strategy that maximizes all domestic energy resources, with a focus on robust and responsible production of domestic shale gas; improved residential, commercial and industrial energy efficiency; and expanded adoption of energy recovery programs. Each will help meet national energy security, economic and environmental goals while creating value for communities.

The report is available here.