25 February 2010

Waste Products May Soon Be Used To Power Cities

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Researchers from the University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR) have calculated the energy and economic potential of urban solid waste, sludge from water treatment plants and livestock slurry for generating electricity in Spain.

These residues are alternative sources of renewable energy, which are more environmentally friendly and, in the case of solid urban waste, more cost effective.

Using waste to generate electricity has economic and environmental advantages. "It gives added value to waste, because it can be seen as a type of fuel with zero cost, or even a negative cost if taxes are paid to collect it", Norberto Fueyo, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Fluid Mechanics Group of the UNIZAR, tells SINC.

According to the researcher, generating electricity from waste avoids "pernicious" impacts. Waste in landfill sites releases methane and other polluting gases, so incinerating solid urban waste will reduce the volume of waste that reaches the landfill sites in the first places, as well as the implicit risks of landfills themselves (possible emission of methane into the atmosphere).

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Renewable Energy, has shown that waste in Spain could generate between 8.13 and 20.95 TWh (terawatt hours). "This electricity generation was 7.2% of electricity demand in 2008", says Fueyo.

(Innovations Report)

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