Why City Administrations Turn Rubbish into Electricity? P.S.Remesh Chandran, Trivandrum

The quantities of coal, oil and natural gas are decreasing and in a nearby future, they won't be available for man for producing electricity. In major cities around the world, people are nowadays saying farewell to these kinds of fossil fuels and turning to renewable sources of energy. Rubbish and other kinds of waste are the best among those sources which can be used for this purpose. Wastetricity is becoming more and more an accepted form of energy to replace electricity. Rubbish accumulated through years in a city are now lying in heaps serving as mere landfills, constantly producing harmful greenhouse gases and obnoxious smell, wasting valuable real estate. Normally this rubbish will decompose at a slower rate but by adding chemicals, its decomposing can be speeded up. By adding oxygen, decaying rubbish can be made to produce carbon dioxide and methane which can be pipe-transported to conversion plants to produce electricity. In nearby future, all metropolises in the world will have to observe stringent world regulations to keep greenhouse gases under control and turning rubbish into electricity will be the only viable option before them. South America and India are already pioneers in the field of marketing carbon content derived from rubbish. Both city waste and industrial waste can be made good use of for producing electricity. Incinerating municipal waste in itself is a waste and dangerous. Incineration does not eliminate gas emission during burning of rubbish. It also destroys precious raw material for electricity. Therefore incineration is a foolish and costly measure adopted by unwise municipal administrations in haste, to escape from the public accusation of doing nothing for disposal of municipal waste. Waste consisting of carbon content such as plastic, paper and food leftover are churned inside plasma gasification chambers at 6000°C to produce gas. Vitrified slag would be the residue which is in demand at road construction sites. This gas can be directly piped to internal combustion engines to produce electricity with the dual benefits of availability of electricity at unbelievably low prices and the height of the Rubbish Mountains coming lower each day. The modern method is to replace internal combustion engines with alkaline fuel cells to increase output by an unbelievable sixty percent. Since these kinds of electrical plants can be constructed at rubbish-disposing sites, there would be no need to find new places to locate the plants. World seminars on eco preservation have put forward many regulations on waste disposal as well as on electricity production. By 2030, half of the electricity produced in every country will have to be from renewable sources. Besides, no country in the world will be allowed to keep Rubbish Mountains in their cities, freely releasing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere which is everyone's property. Turning rubbish to electricity will be the only option then. Why not start a little early?

2100 Kilo Watt Hours of electricity can be produced from a tonne of rubbish if skillfully used. In Britain alone, 40 million tonnes of rubbish are left to decay in vacant lots. Using half this rubbish would produce enough electricity to meet all the electrical needs of the world, making oil, gas, coal and nuclear resources redundant. Rubbish in cities contains biogenic waste such as food, vegetables and meat and non-biogenic waste such as plastic and paper. When they burn or are processed, non-biogenic waste produces more heat and produces more electricity. Thus plastics are an ideal source of renewable energy. Due to liberal use of plastics and their finally reaching rubbish heaps, the Heat Content per Kilogramme of municipal waste is increasing nowadays, compared to that of a few years back. Producers of electricity from rubbish consider this an ideal situation to break even their business. Mixing non-biogenic waste with biogenic is the method for obtaining ideal raw material because when mixed thus, the former burns more fiercely. City rubbish is becoming a more viable fuel for producing electricity. One tonne of paper waste would have more than six million British Thermal Units of heat content whereas plastic has twenty million Btu. Mixing enhances the heat content of one. Using Refuse-Derived Fuel is an ideal way of producing electricity without damaging much our environment. When rubbish is used as Refuse-Derived Fuel for electricity, harmful gases cease to emanate from the site, polluted liquids cease to seep into below-ground water flows and mosquitoes and flies cease to propagate in that place. Though the cost of setting up the plant would be nearly four times higher than that of setting up a conventional power plant, the benefit of lesser harm to the environment would handsomely compensate the higher cost. But one thing is sure. Once the plant is broken even, it would be cheap electricity that it produces. Clearing prime city sites of rubbish, making them available as real estate, the possibility of reducing electricity bills and escaping from power cuts is what motivates many city administrations in setting up plants for making electricity from rubbish. Many city administrations just turn Refuse-Derived Fuel into pellet form and sell them for money to energy producers who badly need them, without bothering to setting up generating plants and running them. Most often power plants of this type would not require more than a quarter area of the rubbish disposal site to sit and the land thus released would be sold by the city for development which itself would bring more than enough money to set up the plant. The residual vitrified slag which is much sought after by road contractors for filling purposes also is sold at bargain price. Considering the fact that the raw material for the plant is free and the city is not paying any money to citizens for producing rubbish, the plant is profitable anyway for the city administration.

Normally a wastetricity plant will not use Refuse-Derived Fuel alone. One third of the raw materials used would be locally available Auxiliary Fuels like oil, coal, gas, wood or grains husk, as a precaution against non-availability of refuse, which happens, though rarely.

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