MSW to Energy – A Quick Glance

Energy Matters

Brief Introduction: There have been  lots of  reports from all over the world about utilization of municipal solid waste(MSW) for conversion to energy. In India too, we have been talking and discussing about segregation of household waste to enable subsequent processing activities. But it has not taken off in any significant way due to a number of reasons. In the next couple of posts I intend to summarize the approaches followed worldwide along with Technology options available. Hopefully, it will throw light on what we need to do in India to put our act together for exploiting municipal solid waste (MSW) and its conversion to energy. Globally too, although there are quite a few success stories to relate, it has been rather difficult to sustain interest.  This post is based on a recent extensive report from EPRI (Electrical Power Research Institute) on this subject. I do believe there are several…

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Significance of Anaerobic Digestion of Food Waste

Photograph of anaerobic digesters, Tel-Aviv 20...
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Anaerobic digestion is the most important method for the treatment of organic waste because of its techno-economic viability and environmental sustainability. The use of anaerobic digestion technology generates biogas and preserves the nutrients which are recycled back to the agricultural land in the form of slurry or solid fertilizer. The relevance of biogas technology lies in the fact that it makes the best possible utilization of various organic wastes as a renewable source of clean energy. A biogas plant is a decentralized energy system, which can lead to self-sufficiency in heat and power needs, and at the same time reduces environmental pollution. Thus, anaerobic digestion of food waste can lead to climate change mitigation, economic benefits and landfill diversion opportunities.

Of the different types of organic wastes available, food waste holds the highest potential in terms of economic exploitation as it contains high amount of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer. Food waste can either be utilized as a single substrate in a biogas plant, or can be co-digested with organic wastes like cow manure, poultry litter, sewage, crop residues, abattoir wastes etc.

Food waste is one of the single largest constituent of municipal solid waste stream.  Diversion of food waste from landfills can provide significant contribution towards climate change mitigation, apart from generating revenues and creating employment opportunities. Rising energy prices and increasing environmental pollution makes it more important to harness renewable energy from food wastes. Anaerobic digestion technology is widely available worldwide and successful projects are already in place in several European as well as Asian countries which makes it imperative on waste generators and environmental agencies to root for a sustainable food waste management system.

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